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Day with Dad at Airway Heights Corrections Center

September 7, 2016

By Ann Wise

Department of Corrections

a dad sits on the ground with 2 children watching him juggle

Learning to juggle with sidewalk chalk! (Tim Kelly , DOC Communications) See photo gallery...

AIRWAY HEIGHTS - Dads and kids played catch, caught Frisbees, kicked soccer balls or just sat on the grass and decorated the sidewalk with chalk. Several dads initiated a crabwalk race with laughing children on their backs. However, this wasn’t an average city park or a common grassy knoll, this was Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC) in Spokane.

The hot sunny day was the perfect setting for the annual Day with Dad program on Saturday, August 13, 2016. The day officially began as 55 dads met with the 103 excited children, along with their escorts, eagerly entering the courtyard. Many inmate’s spouses and parents thanked facility staff and volunteers for providing the dads and their children with the opportunity to just play and laugh on the soft grass and “be normal” for several hours.

Ten volunteers from the Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) assisted children in making puppets, decorating wristbands and other fabric art items. “Seeing those little ones giggling and the grins on the dads’ faces while they threw a ball back and forth or played games with their children is priceless!” noted one CMA volunteer. A Sustainability in Prisons Project volunteer assisted the children in making “potato head” planters that were uniquely decorated. A volunteer from the Spokane Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took amazing pictures, creating mementos for the dads and their children.

At the “fish pond,” the laughing children fought hard for their “catch” of fun prizes. The favorite prize was a large bottle of bubbles with a long wand, creating colorful spheres that floated in the warm air. Dads, wearing their traditional Day with Dad T-shirts, and their children chose to enjoy the beautiful day eating their delicious hamburger meals on the grass, picnicking with their families.

As one inmate stated, “It meant so much to me and my kids to be able to play and interact with my kids outside, like we were in a park, and just be Dad.”