A new program will help prison inmates develop language tools and help impart meaningful life changes necessary for their successful reintegration into the community.
The Victoria Writers Initiative is a partnership between Book Clubs for Inmates and the Federation of B.C. The one-year program is made possible by funding by the Victoria Foundation.
The pilot project builds upon Book Clubs for Inmates, a monthly book club at William Head Institution. The initiative calls for expanding literacy programming to include six to eight writing workshops, facilitated by local writers.
“Participants of our book club already gather to talk about the books they are reading,” said Eileen Henderson, executive director of the registered charity, which facilitates 28 book clubs within federal penitentiaries across the country.
“The new program will seek to encourage their creativity, which includes encouraging individuals to come to terms with the reason for their incarceration.”
She says the program was inspired, in part, by the success of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, a book by a former convict that has become a New York Times bestseller.
“With this program, we hope to provide the inmates with a creative tool that help them identify their past and help them provide for the future.”
The club is looking for local members of the Federation of B.C. Writers who would be interested in facilitating workshops for a group of 20 inmates.
At the workshops, authors and writers will talk about writing, self-expression and an exploration of the creative process.
Participants will be encouraged, through prompts and exercises, to write about their experiences in journals or through poetry.
The program is not intended to teach inmates how to write for profit. Rather, it is meant to improve their communication skills, boost their self-esteem and help build social skills for a successful re-entry into society.
“We are hoping the program will lead to self-growth and self satisfaction for the inmate as well as a benefit to the community.”
For more information, go to bookclubsforinmates.com.