By Judi Jennings, Special Project Director
The Special Project Team is happy to provide this FREE resource for strengthening protective factors and resilience for children and youth with incarcerated loved ones! The artmaking leaders use these 12 activities, along with Sesame Street resources, every week in the Vistors Lobby of the Louisville Metro Jail, so we know children and caregivers enjoy doing them. Also all of the art are can be made with free recycled or low cost materials.
Health professionals now recognize that having an incarcerated parent is an Adverse Childhood Experience. Protective factors are especially important for the health and wellbeing of children facing these adversities. When children can express their individual strengths and engage in social interactions incorporating protective factors, the result is dynamic forms of positive adaptations, which build resilience. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ace/resilience.html
Research on Sesame Street’s Little Children/Big Challenges: Incarceration initiative documents how artmaking can strengthen protective factors and build resilience for children with incarcerated parents. This research focuses on three groups of protective factors: 1) Circle of Care; 2) Sense of Self; and 3) Emotional Understanding and Knowledge. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/300706665_Building_Resilience_in_Young_Children_the_Sesame_Street_Way
The Mayo Clinic Health System also identifies problem-solving skills as important individual assets enabling children facing Adverse Childhood experiences to build resilience. They describe these skills as recognizing a problem, creating and choosing action steps and producing a solution https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/adverse-childhood-experiences/problem-solving-skills-and-self-regulation.Taken together, the protective factors and problem-solving skills embodied in The Special Project art activities provide concrete supports for children and caregivers with incarcerated loved ones.