Leadership and Civic Engagement
Interrupting the Pipeline
by Sarah Nichols on Aug 21, 2018
For one of our #FacebookLiveFridays this month, we were lucky to have Zakiya Esper of Sowing Seeds into the Midlands join us.
Zakiya is a former SC juvenile probation officer (and one of the newly-named members of the Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps!) who saw the need for resources for at-risk youth. But she didn’t just see this gap; she was determined to fill it. And thus she founded Sowing Seeds into the Midlands, a regional nonprofit dedicated to interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and helping teenage youth thrive, through services and tailored programs such as life skills training, professional counseling, tutoring, and—of course—gardening. But more on that later.
We had a particularly thoughtful and engaging conversation with Zakiya last week, thanks to the participation of all of you who asked questions and shared your words of encouragement in the comments. You won’t want to miss even a minute of it, so watch the full video here:
We are LIVE with Zakiya Esper of Sowing Seeds into the Midlands to discuss interrupting the school to prison pipeline. Comment with a 🌱 if you're watching or have any questions! #FacebookLiveFriday
Posted by Women's Rights and Empowerment Network- WREN on Friday, August 10, 2018
But in case you’re short on time, here are some of the important takeaways:
- It is important to teach kids that it’s okay to still be a kid and do things that are positive and productive. This is why their summer camp included a bunch of fun and educational activities such as the Justice 360 Tour, going to the river, and more, so they don’t fall into bad habits.
- The garden at Sowing Seeds into the Midlands is a place for kids on probation to complete their court-ordered stipulation, which are often community service hours. Many organizations do not allow kids with criminal records to volunteer unless they have parental supervision, which is something the parents often do not have the time to give. This makes Skylar’s Garden crucial for this group of children. (Skylar’s Garden is named after Skylar Hilary, a Sowing Seeds kid who passed away in a car accident in 2016).
- Zakiya sees a disconnect between authorities criminalizing certain types of kids (particularly children of color, those who identify as LGBTQIA, those with disabilities, etc.), without providing any supportive or therapeutic resources for them.
- Educators don’t have time to be therapists and social workers, especially with the pressure the state is putting on them to meet benchmarks. Nonetheless, kids need these resources, and often aren’t being given them.
In order for children to get these resources, here are some things you can do:
- Support Sowing Seeds into the Midlands. This could be through donation, volunteering, mentoring, or referring someone you know. More on that here.
- August 28 is Giving Black Day, the only giving day uniquely dedicated to supporting organizations doing vital work to uplift black communities. Central Carolina Community Foundation will be releasing more information soon on how to get involved.
- Share this post and video with friends, family and colleagues.
- Follow Sowing Seeds into the Midlands on social media. They’re on Facebook and Instagram.