Charles Roundtree Bloom Project provides healing-centered outdoor experiences for low income youth of color of incarcerated parents.
Today millions of children suffer the consequences and trauma of a parent’s incarceration. More than 5 million children in the U.S. have had a parent in prison at some point in their lives, including 477,000 in Texas. The impact is greater on youth of color. In 2008, 1 in 9 Black children had a parent imprisoned, compared to 1 in 28 Latinx and 1 in 57 White children. Youth in poverty are 3 times more likely to have had a parent imprisoned than youth from incomes at least twice the poverty level. 1 in 5 children of incarcerated parents had clinically significant internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety, depression, withdrawal); 1 in 3 had externalizing problems (e.g., behavioral issues, aggression, attention). Because of the stigma of incarceration, youth with incarcerated parents lack support (unlike youth of divorced, deceased, or military parents). Research has shown that one of the key factors in easing the negative impacts and helping youth of incarcerated parents thrive is support. Studies have shown that proximity to greenspace is associated with lower levels of stress and reduced symptomology for depression and anxiety, while interacting with nature can improve cognition for children with attention deficit. But low-income youth of color tend to have less access to greenspace.
Youth of incarcerated parents need support and healing, and CR Bloom Project will create a space of communal healing through engaging with nature. Different from other youth-serving organizations like YMCA or the Boys & Girls Club, CR Bloom Project addresses the impacts of mass incarceration on youth through engaging with nature. CR Bloom Project helps low income youth of color of incarcerated parents develop healing practices by (re)connecting with nature through experiences like meditative walks outside, hikes at local parks, forest therapy, community gardening, healing circles, and art. Initiatives to broaden access to the outdoors are increasing, but none focus on youth of incarcerated parents and very few if any use a healing justice approach to engaging with nature. CR Bloom Project curriculum provides a dynamic place- and community-based environmental education that is relevant to the experiences of the youth participants.