Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program to launch in Orleans Parish October 12

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Girl Scouts Louisiana East will be joining 30 other Girl Scout councils nationwide when it begins offering the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program for girls and their incarcerated mothers this month. The program, which is being launched in Orleans Parish on October 12, is designed to help re-establish family bonds, and to teach leadership, healthy living, and financial literacy skills to both parties, ultimately helping the mothers after their incarceration, and subsequently reducing the recidivism rate. A meeting and orientation is being held for the mothers, daughters, and current caregivers on Saturday, October 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Orleans Parish Sheriff's office at 819 South Broad St. in New Orleans.

Local Girl Scout council members, led by volunteer Beyond Bars coordinator Suzanne Mayo-Theus and Outreach Director Dianne Rose, have been meeting with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Director Of Regional Re-Entry and Rehabilitation Services Leo Hayden, and Warden of the Female Division, Colonel Anella Joseph, as well as community partners like the Tulane Parenting Center for the last five months to prepare for the October launch.

Mayo-Theus, who was involved with the Beyond Bars program in Maryland and Kansas, has been a strong advocate for getting the program offered to Girl Scouting in her home state of Louisiana. Plans include for the program to eventually expand to the women's prison in St. Gabriel.

"Beyond Bars is a powerful reunion of the mothers and their daughters," said Mayo-Theus, who recalls how her own Girl Scout troop of 19 girls in Baltimore had 17 members with someone in their family who was incarcerated.

According to Rose, there are currently 12 girls, ranging from 7-13 years old, and 13 mothers registered for the Beyond Bars program which will meet monthly at the Orleans Parish Prison for eight months. Mothers and their daughters take an active leadership role in the planning of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, a process that fosters life skills and personal growth.

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars was established in 1992 as a partnership between the National Institute of Justice and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, and has grown to serve thousands of girls across the country.

Girl Scout's mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The local council, Girl Scouts Louisiana East, serves girls 5 to 17 in the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

For more information about the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program, contact Rose at the council office in New Orleans at 504-733-8220, ext. 2255, or visit its website at