The CAN-DO Teddy Bear program helps incarcerated parents who want to reach out to their children in a special way. Children often bear the worst hardship of all – trying to comprehend why a mother or father has left them – and in some cases both parents.
Most children are too young to understand the concept of prison. That’s why the CAN-DO Teddy Bear is important! It provides comfort in the absence of a parent.
HOW IT WORKS
CAN-DO’s original intent was to get the bears into the federal prisons so that the mother could hand the teddy bear directly to their child, especially at the end of a visit to ease the anxiety of separation that occurs each when the child has to leave the mother (or father). But, it became too difficult to cut through all the bureaucratic tape, so CAN-DO teamed up with Dorsey Nunn’s Legal Service for Prisoners with Children in San Francisco in 2010. LSPC provides bicycles to the children and CAN-DO provides the teddy bears (or stuffed animal/toy). We hope that one day we will be able to create a pilot program within the BOP to allow teddy bears to come in to the prison for special occasions, such as the annual Children’s day, or Christmas week visitation. With the permission of the institution, the mother or father will personally hand the Teddy Bear to their child at the end of a visit.
According to CAN-DO founder Amy Povah, “I personally witnessed the bone chilling screams that came from children at the end of visitation. They’d cling to their mothers and defy anyone who tried to pull them apart. It was awful to witness,” said Amy. “That’s why the CAN-DO Teddy is critical. It’s something the child can focus on and hold during that trauma of separation. And, the parent can be creative – they can name the bear, tell the child to talk to the bear whenever they need to talk to the parent…whatever will help ease this difficult transition.”
“I remember crying when I got my first Teddy Bear for Christmas,” says Amy Povah. “I was about 12 years old and I named my bear ‘Jenny.’ She went with me everywhere – on trips, camping and to bed. I didn’t have a sibling to play with, so I had a very active imagination. Jenny and I would talk, play and I remember crying into her brown fur on many occasions. She made me feel loved and safe.”
CAN-DO will also sponsor children who have lost both parents to incarceration at Christmas time and fulfill a Santa wish list.
Photos Worth A Million Words…
CAN-DO Bears – 2015