The founders of POPS took inspiration from the model for the first club in the U.S. for gay students, founded in 1988 in Massachusetts at Concord Academy. This club was, first and foremost, a safe space. Anyone who might have been subjected to bullying or discomfort about his or her place in the world could walk into a room where they were not judged, where they learned they were not alone, and where their stories, experiences, and thoughts were welcomed and celebrated.
POPS clubs follow that model, focused primarily on creating a safe space. Often meetings include an activity—writing, making art, mindfulness exercises, a film, a reading, a guest speaker, discussion of a current event or an individual’s pressing need.
Like its model, it is critical to understand that:
It is okay for STUDENTS TO KEEP THEIR STORIES TO THEMSELVES
POPS the Club values the liberating experience of sharing our stories, but no one is ever required to talk or write about their life. Many find the experience of writing or painting or otherwise expressing their truths to be liberating, but this is not a requirement for membership. On rare occasions, students have kept their own stories secret for years. That’s fine. POPS understands the benefit of forging a nurturing and supportive community. POPS meets students where they live—no matter their feelings about their experience with incarceration.