Storybook Dads lets fathers in Saskatoon jail read to their children
Children get a DVD of their father reading a story, a signed copy of the book, new pyjamas and a backpack
Fathers at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre are able to read bedtime stories for their children thanks to a new program.
The Storybook Dads program films fathers, packages the footage on a DVD and has the father sign the book for their child. The book is then delivered in a new backpack with a pair of pyjamas.
The program is run by the Restorative Ministry Office at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.
Diann Block, cultural co-ordinator at the jail, said she was inspired by a similar program in the UK.
When they come out, the kids will have an experience with their dad that they wouldn't have had before.- Diann Block
Block reached out to the Diocese and was introduced to Tim Yaworski, a volunteer who films the storytelling. Any inmate at the jail can apply for the program. The team will vet and decide who can participate.
Yaworski said he was hesitant at first, as entering the jail was outside his comfort zone.
"I realised I've got a specific skill set that they needed and it was a way to force me out of that comfort zone," he said.
Literacy is important to keep families connected, Block said.
"When they come out, the kids will have an experience with their dad that they wouldn't have had before," Block said. "For a lot of the men, it's a very moving experience."
To see them reaching out to their children is really priceless.- Tim Yaworski
If a man isn't able to read, Yaworski works with them to take their time and begin again, Block said.
Yaworski said it's moving to spend time with the men.
"To see them reaching out to their children is really priceless," he said. "One father, he came to me and he said 'My daughter watches the video every day. She thinks I'm a movie star now.'"
The jail also has an Inspired Minds program where dads could write their own stories just for their child, Block said. They've put it on twice since their All Nations Creative Writing Program started in 2011.
The Storytime Dads program does more than give children a new memory, it helps with rehabilitation, Block said.
"It's been proven that if the men while they're inside can maintain contact with their families there's less chance of recidivism," she said. "Any program like this, if it helps them not to come back that's a bonus."
With files from The Afternoon Edition