December’s Community Cinema featured the compelling documentary Troop 1500 followed by discussion with a local chapter of the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program and of course cookies. Troop 1500 follows several young girls in Texas who have monthly Girl Scout meetings in a Gatesville prison with their incarcerated mothers. The film explores both the challenges for these daughters and mothers as well as the positive impact of this unique Troop.
After the screening Margaret Moore from the Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri talked about her work with Troop 2026, which meets monthly at the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF). Currently Troop 2026 is made up of about 30 girls, who come from all over Kansas and even parts of Missouri to visit their incarcerated mothers and take part in traditional Girl Scout activities. Moore has worked with Troop 2026 since the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program came to TCF in 1994. In the last 17 years, Troop 2026 has touched the lives of girls with incarcerated mothers by lessening the trauma of parental separation and fostering positive development. Moore shared a few stories from her experience.
-One young girl who was cutting herself stopped after she joined Troop 2026 and realized she would be able to have regular contact with her mother.
-Another girl who lived with her 90 year old grandmother was being made fun of at school because of her unkempt appearance. As a result Troop 2026 gained special permission from TCF so that the girl’s mother could braid her daughter’s hair during their visits.
-Once before a meeting a girl, who hadn’t seen her mother for months had a big “Mister Koolaid” smile. Moore asked her why she was smiling so big. The girl replied, “I am getting ready to die.” Moore probed further, “Getting ready to die?” She answered, “Well, I talked to mama last night on the phone and she said she was going to hug me so much, she’s gonna hug the breath out of me!”
-To show her appreciation for the workers and volunteers that make Troop 2026 possible, one girl wrote and performed a song entitled “Troop 2026″. Listen to the song.
In addition to these stories, Moore shared how graduates of Troop 2026 have gone on to be the first in their family to get their high school diplomas, gone on to college and joined the Marines.
Moore says the main challenge to Troop 2026 and other Girl Scouts Beyond Bars programs is funding. Currently they have enough money to continue the program through March 2012. They have already cut back on meetings from bi-monthly to once a month. The main cost associated with the program is transporting the girls to TCF.
If you’d like to get involved contact Margaret Moore.
KCPT’s Community Cinema takes place every second Saturday of the month at 11am at Tivoli Cinemas in Westport.