Kid (Creating Awareness Together) C.A.T. is a platform for incarcerated youth offenders to actively restore healing within their communities by using the three principles of the mission: education, mentorship and restorative practices. Core members and facilitators begin with developing and strengthening pro-social skills - intrapersonal and interpersonal - to create a strong foundation for giving back. Rooted in accountability, the Kid C.A.T. community operates from a belief that they have a responsibility to be of service to others. This program prepares this unique community of incarcerated individuals to grow and mature into the fullness of who they are, both while in prison, as well as when they transition from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
A BRIEF HISTORY
In 2010, a group of men at San Quentin State Prison decided to get together to discuss forming a new group at the prison, one that would specifically cater to the needs of the “Juvenile Lifer" community.
What began as a conversation to develop an initiative to present in the form of a senate bill, the direction quickly shifted to one of accountability, community service, and the responsibility to make amends for the crimes that the founders had created by their commitment offenses. They decided since they committed crimes in their youth, they would give back to the youth of today.
They formed Kid Creating Awareness Together (C.A.T.), whose mission is to inspire humanity through education, mentorship, and restorative practices.
In addition to a number of Kid C.A.T. projects, the founders were asked to provide the San Quentin population with something that would benefit their quality of life. They decided to design a self-help curriculum that would focus on the development of the self. That curriculum is now known as The First Step. The First Step has been made available to all California prisons with the intention to one day reach every prison, and beyond.
The First Step has since graduated over 400 participants and has reached beyond the walls of prisons; exercises from the curriculum have been taught in university classrooms, featured in The Mask You Live In, and is officially taught at an additional location: the California Men's Colony, San Luis Obispo, while forms of the curriculum are used statewide.
What is the meaning behind the name Kid C.A.T. (Creating Awareness Together)?
The group name “Kid C.A.T.” expresses the growth of its members from childhood to adulthood. The name evokes a sense of youthfulness, yet its message is that of a more mature nature behind the implications of its acronym, “C.A.T.” The name “Kid C.A.T.” represents its members’ youthful ages when they committed their crimes, as well as the progress they have made in becoming responsible, and rehabilitated men.
As youth, the members of “Kid C.A.T.” took from society and, now as men, their group name signifies their desire to give back to society’s youth of today. To make this possible, the acronym “C.A.T.” proposes collaboration between inside and outside forces to work together towards a greater means than what the members of Kid C.A.T. can accomplish on their own.
With the desire to improve on their own lives, as well as by encouraging the same for fellow incarcerated men and at risk youth, the name “Kid C.A.T.” is a reflection of the change from within its members, and their hope to create a social transformation beyond prison walls.
The name reminds us that, as adults, we all began as children; and as children, we were not capable of knowing all that we do as adults.