Who we are, What we do, and How we do it….
I take for granted that the people who visit this site have been with us from day one, when really we’re adding new amazing volunteers all of the time. I thought this would be a great opportunity to reflect over the past 10+ years, and give everyone here a quick history lesson on what we do here at Coaching Kids.
Coaching Kids, Inc. was created as a charitable non-profit organization in 2001 (I still can’t believe it’s been that long!). We use the powers of life coaching skills to empower youth, their parents and those that work with youth to discover young people’s unique potential. The program helps create resilient kids, nurturing families, stronger communities and a more humane world. Since our initial charter and our 501- C-3 application we have worked in prisons, schools, churches, and other non-profit, government, and for profit organizations.
The aim of our Life On Purpose training in Oklahoma is to help people live empowered fulfilling purposeful lives. We have found that this is best accomplished with the help of interactive experiential learning and teaching modules that build self-esteem, hope, trust, vision, consciousness and self-awareness. Through this process, we’ve witnessed additional positive outcomes, including but not limited to empowering participants to live life with more choice and to make a contribution to others – thereby living a more fulfilled purposeful life – and becoming more responsible, accountable, and caring.
Through extensive personal growth, participants:
- Become aware of their impact on others, develop deeper emotional connection and learn healthy boundary setting,
- Recognize their intrinsic value and gain the tools and language to make choices in alignment with their values and supportive beliefs,
- Develop an increased sense of self-awareness and can identify what actions more fully empower them, and;
- Learn to live intentionally and consciously.
Part of our volunteer intake program is to take individuals through a series of modules that teach:
- Listening at three different levels
- Values awareness
- The awareness and management of inner critics
- The powerful use of intuition and acknowledgement
- The tools to initiate and complete action
- Train-The-Trainer module on Co-Active Workshop Leading
One of our goals is to not just train our volunteers to deliver programs at the foundation of Coaching Kids and Life on Purpose, but to also take their learnings into the rest of their lives, from interactions at the workplace to family relationships. Really, our volunteers leave the training sessions with a starter lesson in Life Coaching which is all about learning how to live a more empowered, more aware, more self-responsible life at choice, and in alignment with our personal core values. This program is based on the foundation of the Co-Active Coaching curriculum, taught around the world by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).
Through experiential training, coaches guide participants as they learn improved emotional intelligence skills. The coach training process helps participants to really look at where they are, and where they want to be, and to decide what they need to do to get from here to there. It has them explore who they are and what needs to change in order for them to progress in a way that is meaningful to them while on their life path.
If you’re at all curious about Life Coaching or working within any of our programs, I encourage you to contact me directly any time. Learn More
Our Prison Project Volunteers & Programs
We have an amazing team of volunteers both in Oklahoma and Colorado. We started with 70 inmates in OK and are now down to 34. Four STAR Volunteers – Susan, Melva, Konrad, and Patty – were in the Oklahoma Women’s Prison (Mabel Bassett) and led four amazing circles of Acknowledgement Throne Exercises. Our numbers have dropped, with those who couldn’t really connect to this work stepping back. We were in the zone with the remaining participants, working in smaller groups of 8-10 mothers.
In all our programs we teach 8 modules:
1. Levels-of-Listening & Powerful Questions,
2. Intuition and Acknowledgement,
3. Personal Values,
4. Saboteurs or Inner Critic,
5. Perspectives, Balance Wheel,
6. Action and Accountability,
7. Visioning, and
8. Who’s Driving Your Bus of Life, Take Your Power Back.
In the Acknowledgement Throne portion of the second module, we talk about the difference between an acknowledgement and a compliment. We discuss how acknowledgement involves talking about who they are, who they want to be as they are accomplishing something positive, whereas a compliment talks about what they accomplished, or just general positive comments or what they did. We ask each participant to sit in a chair at the front of the room. We then ask each person, some more than once, to acknowledge them. The person on the Acknowledgement Throne can only take it in, perhaps saying thank you. The other participants use their intuition and say from their heart, “You are _______”. Some example statements include: you are courageous, you are tenacious, you are loyal, you are powerful, you are humble…
We introduced a new all day Saturday Train-the-Trainer workshop on Nov. 23rd, from 2:00 to 8:00 pm, this accommodated Mabel Bassett’s visiting hours of 9:00 to 2:00 pm. And then I had a minor stroke the day after Thanksgiving. I am recovering remarkably, but still having trouble talking and typing. The A-Team is helping out a lot!
We have 7 ladies who have been through our program and in various Train-the-Trainer workshops over the past three years; they co-lead our new program on the main yard (general population) in January and February. We did a one-day train-the-trainer programs on January 4 and 17, and then we did two weekends on January 18 and 19, and 25 and 26, training 15 inmates. We repeated the program on February 15 and 16, and 22 and 23, training another 9 inmates. I couldn’t have done it without the A-Team of inmates. It was amazing.
We have another meeting with the A-Team on March 14, and two more weekends of training on March 15 and 16, and 22 and 23, with 20 new inmates. We will have 20 on the list, and 11 alternates. Then we are meeting on the March 29th with all the trained inmates – the 15 from January, the 9 form February, the 20 from March, and the 7 A-Team – 51 total, if they all show up.
We’re excited about this program as it’s in partnership with the Friends for Folks dog program, which is a new program for Mabel Bassett but it has been active at the men’s prison in Lexington, OK for the last 28 years. It’s time the women got exposed to this amazing program and we are proud to be their partners!
I’ll be sharing more about the successes of the Friends for Folks program over the coming weeks – stay tuned!
Our Denver Women’s Prison program has been on a roller coaster from 15 ladies to only 2 (that was two female inmates and me). With such a small group, I had the opportunity to hear the tragic story of one of them, Juanita. She shared her journey through teenage drugs, the death of one of her twins, the death of another child, and about the other twin and a 2-year old daughter. I took her through the Perspectives Wheel on the topic of “living through November” – the month her twin died, with the current perspective that she couldn’t control herself in this month, it just takes over and she acts out. She moved from hopeless and uncontrollable to the perspective of hope and new life, the perspective through the eyes of her 2-year old daughter.
We started a new series of 12 classes three weeks ago at the Denver Women’s Prison; we have 13 women in the class. We’ll keep you posted as this program takes off!
Working within the system, not trying to change it (kind of)
Here is one of the questions I get asked all of the time. Why do I choose to work primarily within prisons and directly with incarcerated women, instead of focusing on influencing change to the prison system as a whole?
While I absolutely hope to bring about change from the top down, this type of change takes time. It takes changing the status quo, which can be a labor intensive and slow process. And while this type of change is ultimately a goal of mine, what happens to the women in the system right now? How does change that could take years impact their lives and the lives of their families immediately?
So while I would love to see change in how prisons are run and have impact on the sentences of those convicted of non-violent crimes, I feel the profound need to start making a change right now.
There are many ways to get involved in increasing the awareness around the issue of the incarceration of women in the various prison systems across the US. With the rates of incarceration rising across the country, and certainly in more so in some states, it really is time to take notice of this forgotten population that will be re-entering society at some point. What investment are we making to ensure that this re-entry is smooth for the community, the individual, and their family? And while many feel that this issue is too large to effectively address, and believe me, at times it feels like it is… One of the best first steps is to increase awareness around the issue as a whole.
Over the coming weeks I’ll speak directly to some of the statistics that begin to paint the picture of the issue at hand. But before I get into the numbers, I wanted to highlight a colleague of mine who is putting a face to the women (and their families) who either are, or have been incarcerated in Oklahoma.
I’d like to introduce you to Yousef Khanfar, who has recently released “Invisible Eve”, available on Amazon here.
What I find inspiring about Yousef’s work is that he (in his words) is looking to build “Bridges of Understanding”. His book is a collection of photographs that capture real moments in the lives of these women, and in some cases, moments with their children.
In a recent article Khanfar is quoted as saying “This is a very traumatic experience for these children that leaves a permanent scar in their souls,” he said. “We often forget that many of these women are mothers, and when we imprison mothers, we imprison families. It’s the children who are paying the ultimate price. So, this project is a call to action, a celebration of women, and also a reminder that the mother is the