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NFL Legend Carl Banks Supports Children Of Incarcerated Parents

Former New York Giants football star, Carl Banks, will lend his support to children of incarcerated parents by becoming the new board chair of In Arms Reach, Inc. Parents behind Bars: Children in Crisis. In Arms Reach (IAR) is a non-profit community-based art, counseling, prison visitation and academic mentoring organization exclusively serving children and youth in urban communities of New York City whose parent(s) are, or once were, incarcerated.

Banks, a former All-Pro linebacker who won two Super Bowl rings during nine seasons with the New York Giants, is eager to use his fame as a vehicle to expose IAR to a larger audience.

"We have to increase awareness and bring the plight of these children of incarcerated parents to a wider audience. I recently joined as board chairman, and I am actively reaching out to others in the athletic community to help this organization keep its programs and services going, said Banks in an August press release.

"I am participating in a charity dinner fund-raising drive, and helping organize a campaign over the next 12 months to fuel new energy and concern for the dangers facing children of incarcerated parents."

Terrence Stevens, who also serves as the program's executive director, founded IAR.

Stevens, a native of Harlem, is confined to a wheelchair and virtually paralyzed from the neck down due to Muscular Dystrophy. Stevens was granted executive clemency in 2001 by Gov. George Pataki after serving close to 10 years of a 15 year sentence for a low level non violent drug offense under the harsh Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Since its inception, IAR has offered youth an alternative to the lures of the street. Staff have provided over 3,450 hours of tutoring services, 368 after-school mentoring sessions, and 27 free trips to prison facilities for children to reunite with their incarcerated parents. All IAR volunteers and mentors are required to undergo a fingerprint and national background investigation check prior to working with children. On-site social work interns, supervised by an MSW, support IAR. The social work interns conduct monthly social assessments. Their assessments provide IAR with a case management system to regularly track the child's social, emotional and academic needs.

"Children of incarcerated people face some of life's harshest challenges, including poverty, violence, limited opportunities for a good education, and a future that seems to hold little promise.

These children present a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, loneliness, and guilt. Often, their academic performance deteriorates, and they develop other school-related difficulties. The incarceration of a parent often places children at an increased risk of substance abuse, truancy, and other anti-social behaviors," said Stevens.

Banks' involvement with IAR began after meeting Stevens at an event to benefit children at Giant Stadium. "I was amazed; this guy does more for children though being virtually paralyzed from the neck down than most people do with all their faculties," Banks said

The first-annual charity dinner/ fundraiser for In Arms Reach (IAR): Parent Behind Bars: Children in Crisis will be held on December 1,2006 at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of City College. All ticket purchases are tax deductible.

To purchase tickets, make a donation or to RVSP, please write: In Arms Reach, The City College of NY, 138 St. Convent Ave. Harris Hall Building, New York, NY 10031, or telephone 212.650.5894. Contact Terrence Stevens at 917-939-5349. IAR Web site:

Tonight, in the United States, 2.5 million children will go to bed denied access to their parent because that parent is behind bars.

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