How an Austin Girl Scout troop helps girls whose moms are in prison

Austin

Growing up, Jasmine Davis didn’t understand what she was going through. At times happy and bubbly, at other times angry for what seemed like no reason, it wasn’t until joining a specific Girl Scouts troop that she started to discover she wasn’t alone.

“When I was in elementary school I didn’t have kids who had parents that were incarcerated. Or at least, I didn’t know of any kids who had that problem,” Jasmine said. “So, when I’m in Girl Scouts, I’m surrounded by girls who are also going through the same thing that I’m going through.”

Jasmine, now 17, joined Troop 1500 when she was 7. Her mom was in prison in Gatesville and signed her up for the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program run by Girl Scouts of Central Texas. 

All the girls in the troop joined under similar circumstances. GSBB offers them a chance to visit their moms in prison once a month, as well as to receive regular counseling and therapy.

Perhaps the biggest influence the program has had, at least in Jasmine’s case, is through direct mentorship from an adult volunteer. Each girl is paired up with a mentor to provide a strong, consistent female presence that might be missing otherwise.

Nearly 11 years after she joined, Jasmine prepared to leave the program on a recent Wednesday night, the troop’s last meeting before breaking for the summer. It was a bittersweet night for the graduating high school senior: embarking on a new chapter but leaving the program that helped turn her into the successful, driven young woman she is.

“It’s really good that I had this relationship as I was getting older,” she said, “not always having my mom there.”

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