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Room to bond - child-friendly visitor rooms in Cologne prison

A project from Morning Tears Deutschland e.V.
in Köln, Germany

Room to bond – Participatory Art Project from Alanus University, initiated by BAG-S with Morning Tears Germany , Children for a better World and SKM and SKF – working together for child-friendly visitor rooms in Cologne prison

U. Germer
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About this project

"Room to bond" is a participatory Art Project of Alanus University, initiated by BAG-S, with Morning Tears Germany, Children for a better World and SKM/SKF Cologne. Together we create child-friendly visitor rooms inside Cologne prison.

It is not the children's fault - yet they are the ones who suffer when a parent goes to prison. Regular visits in prison are important to keep the child's bonds and relationship with the parent intact. But these visits often feel heavy, uncomfortable, sad. The children and their parents often feel uncertain in such situations. And cold, uninviting visitor rooms make it all the worse. We are working to change this with better visitor rooms - and to improve the atmosphere for all involved.

This project "Room to bond" creates rooms that make bonding possible, that have a "good mood" feeling and make the visits of the family a success. How do we achieve this? By creating a pleasant atmosphere from the very beginning:

The Tram Station: A bridge between the inside and out - during Art Therapy projects inside JVA Cologne pictures will be created, about dreams, wishes and fears. Here the inner prison world will be transported to be seen outside prison.

Entrance Control: It is necessary, but does not feel good for the children. At the JVA sewing room, new curtains for the body search rooms will be sewn, then printed with motives created by inmates.

Guidance system "Buddy" for children: To support the children with a feeling of orientation and safety while they walk through the long corridors, they will be "accompanied" by the cute teddybear "Elli", by a book with Elli's story and by footsteps leading the way to the room where they meet their daddy.

The big waiting room: Teenagers in particular need to be able to find support here; to feel that they are not being left alone with all their questions and problems regarding their parent's imprisonment. Speaking the language: To get the teenagers interested, the room will be partly painted with graffiti and stencils. Motifs pick up topics from the urban space of the city Cologne, the prison being part of it.

Finally the visitor rooms: Bringing in nature. Inspiring fantasy and bringing the "outside" to the "inside". Visually enlarging the rooms with a comfortable, bright atmosphere. Creating a background for relaxation and a friendly conversation atmosphere.

The room for longer family: Offering robust and therapeutical toys will support good play and fun. Integrating magnetic walls as well as a black board and chalk on the wall and a small table, providing a tool to enhance communication between children and parents.

This project will create room to bond for the children and their parents. Help us with your donation, together we will make our ideas become reality.