(I've been working on this one for three
weeks in the boys' art group.)
I had to stretch it a bit to figure out how I could call this appropriate for a group therapy activity, but girls in Juvenile Hall aren't the sort who sit around in the traditional circle and talk about their deepest selves. They don't trust each other and the group is unstable with kids entering and leaving from week to week. Some are mandated to be there ("Do I have to?") and some volunteer. Over time I've developed my own little curriculum which works well. I absolutely love the girls' group and they know it.
So our topic today was travel - something they can't do when they're locked up. Some are immigrants, some have never left their neighborhoods, some can't find California on a map and have never addressed a postcard. I had them work in pairs. Two girls, one postcard. I assigned the profiles but let them choose the cards and decide on the message. We had a long discussion earlier about what might be appropriate and I had a sample written out for those who were unable to construct their own messages, an option taken by one pair.
It was such a successful venture. The girls were thrilled to think that their postcards would be going to Germany, Belarus and Oregon - and we found each place on a large map. Several asked for penpals, not a direct part of the Postcrossing program. They studied the stamps, read and reread the profiles. They commented on the attitude of one woman who had a long list of cards she did not want to receive, but they were touched by a child who was trying to write English. We talked about ways to get a little snippet of travel experience when you're locked up or financially challenged (read books, eat ethnic foods, etc.) and, for those who don't even want to travel we discussed the difference between fear of traveling and being so rooted geographically that travel simply has no appeal. When I asked them who they would like to travel with all six girls said, "My boyfriend." One explained, "We would need a man with us." Well, that was a topic that we might really like to consider for an entire hour!
The plan is to keep the project current, but I'll limit it to just a few minutes each session. Next week we'll send out a few more cards and the following week I hope to have at least one postcard to bring to the girls so we can begin to fill the album. I can't wait myself, I hope those cards start flowing our way!