The Special Project: artmaking strengthening families affected by incarceration.

The Special Project originated in 2008 as a project of Kentucky Foundation for Women. a private independent philanthropy.  A mother awaiting video visitation with her son at the Louisville Jail envisioned artmaking with children and families in the visitors lobby.  With her generous support, the Special Project began creating weekly art activities every Sunday to strengthen family bonding for visitors at the jail. The foundation also commissioned a hopeful and inspiring community mural in the exit lobby.  In 2013, the Special Project joined Sesame Street’s national Initiative on Little Children/Big Challenges: Incarceration.

In 2015, the Special Project became independent and continues its weekly artmaking activities in the jail lobby designed to increase family and social support and community safety.  The Special Project is also leading a Community Coaching Team, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that includes representatives from the Jefferson County Public Schools, Metro United Way, Kentucky Department of Corrections and the Kentuckiana Regional Development and Planning Agency. This Team is researching family friendly policies and practices that can be adapted to our local justice system. The Special Project looks forward to working with community members, service providers, and business leaders to prototype how arts and cultural strategies can begin moving the needle on the critical health factors of family and social support and community safety.

Mural image at top of page: Joyce Ogden and Mary Yates.