Camden City Councilwoman Laurie Parks on Friday announced her participation in “A Mother’s Voice,” a Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative which Laurie helped launch. Laurie is a recent graduate of the Diversity Leaders Initiative, a program of the Riley Institute of Furman University.
This initiative provides incarcerated mothers with recordable books suitable for toddlers and young children. Moms record their own voice as they read the book, then give the book to their child or children to keep and listen to over and over again.
The Mission of “A Mother’s Voice” is to connect children with their incarcerated moms through the joy of reading with the objective to reinforce bonds between mother and child, increase mother and child communication through reading, and improve literacy skills of both the mother and the child.
Laurie presented the program to inmates at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia on May 23 and books were distributed to the ladies on June 24. The first 25 inmates who expressed interest received books, but over 125 women have expressed interest to participate. The program is being expanded to the Leath Correctional Institute in Greenwood, SC. Mothers who need help reading and recording the books are provided with reading coaches.
“Laurie has been a driving force with helping rolling out ‘A Mother’s Voice’ at the Department of Corrections,” said South Carolina Department of Corrections Agency Director Bryan Stirling.
“I am so proud to partner with an initiative I am so passionate about. National studies have shown that separation of mother from child is one of the most difficult aspects of incarceration for women,” Laurie said. “This initiative has shown to result in so many positives from as simple of an act as Mother reading to child. Family ties are strengthened, the connectionloss the mother feels to her child is lessened, positive self-image is reinforced, and the reading skills of incarcerated women are improved. With 79% of incarcerated women in South Carolina being mothers, it is important we act in the best interest of both the Mother and Child as this initiative seeks to strengthen their special bond, well-being, and education.”
“A Mother’s Voice” is based at the Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia, SC. Children from infancy to age 7 can participate, including infants born to mothers while in prison. Participants must have a clean disciplinary record for at least 6 months. Michelin Funding started the program with a generous donation, along with local business Sheridan’s Hallmark donating books at cost, however, “A Mother’s Voice” is always looking for financial support to be able to continue the program.
Pictured: Laurie Parks speaking to an inmate about the program (photo provided)