Dear Project HIP,



Greensboro Dreamers Host Project HIP



Project HIP was founded in October 2004 by Clayton County Juvenile Court Officers and Volunteers.  The goal of Project HIP is to reach out and educate parents and youth through realism (what it’s actually like in jail or prison) and make them aware of the legal consequences of the choices they make. HIP is education for change.

The guest speakers told personal stories of prison life. These stories also focused on the path they took and the choices they made along the way which ultimately led to jail. Often times, it was not so much their actions but rather the actions of those they chose to associate with and the situations they put themselves into which led to trouble and imprisonment.

Project HIP has been out to Greene County to present on two occasions to Dreamers and parents.  Following are comments from some students after listening to the guest speakers’ testimonies:


“This assembly was needed. Hopefully you have turned someone’s life around.”

“Your testimonies really touched and inspired me to do my best in life and listen to and stay close with my family.”

“It gave me something to think about because it seems like I only get in trouble when I’m around certain people.”

“It’s people like you that are going to help the youth of today’s society make good decisions.”

“You gave me more information than my parents have given me.”


Student Letters to Prisoners

Dear Project HIP,

            I want to start by saying THANK YOU! You will never know the impact you had on my life. I am a really good girl, but you opened my eyes to a bigger picture. You made me realize that there are many challenges other than getting the best project in school or getting the best grades. Those things are important, but more important is the challenges of decisions. I think I have the ability to say “no” to bad things, but you showed me that I may never know.  I have to stay focused in order to make it anywhere. I need to surround myself with positive people. I really realize that now.

            I really think that what you’re doing is great. Talking to teens and telling your testimonies really gets to the soul. When I heard some of the stories, I instantly thought of a lifetime movie. The difference was that these stories were REAL. It wasn’t something someone wrote in a script. I could hear the pain in everyone’s voice. I could hear the sincerity and the fear for us. I think there were some students present that really needed that. Thank you on their behalf also. I really loved this experience and I openly welcome you all back. I pray for the best for each and every one of you.

Dear Project HIP:

            I want to thank the Project HIP prisoners for coming to tell their stories. They really inspired me to be successful in life. The men told our group about how their lives were changed with one bad decision. It will make me really think before I make any decisions. The main thing that stuck with me is you should listen to the ones that really care about you, your parents and teachers, instead of your friends. Your family will be with you through the good and the bad but your friends will not. As soon as you end up in jail, they will be nowhere to be found. I really appreciate them for coming down here to encourage many of the students in Greene County and I know just by those couple of men speaking, they change more than one life.


Prisoners Offer Advice

 By Tom Kelly


The Greensboro Dreamers and 21st Century After School Programs (through Ms. Mattie Waller) worked with the Georgia Department of Corrections and arranged to have six prisoners talk to and then answer questions from a group of 6th thru 12th grade students, the students’ parents and teachers.  The repeatedly stated objective of all six prisoners was to explain what led to their criminal activity in the hope that young kids could learn how to avoid similar mistakes.  The session took place at Greene County High School on Saturday, October 23rd. 

           Three of the six participating men were serving life sentences without parole, all six had been incarcerated before their 20th birthday and most already had spent more than 15 years in prison.  During animated exchanges all of these men talked about their own very bad decisions, poor choice of friends, and now (far too late) taking personal responsibility for their actions and the consequences.  They also described, often in graphic terms, the many horrors of life in prison while strongly criticizing Hollywood’s watered down version of time behind bars. 

           Not one prisoner (surprisingly and refreshingly) claimed he was innocent.  The students, some of whom asked great questions, came away with real world lessons reference stupid decisions and their life changing punitive consequences. 

          Before returning to prison I treated all of the men and their superintendent to lunch at The Yesterday Café, including multiple servings of the café’s famous buttermilk pie.  We then stole some silverware and left without paying the bill – only kidding!


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