Thank you for the work that you are doing to share your stories and inspire change and hope for youth. As a public school educator working with teens I am heartened to read the San Quentin News and note the myriad ways inmates are using the power of voice and story to reach out to both incarcerated youth as well as teens on the outside who are struggling to find their voice and make a positive choices
In a group session with the inmates and other youth, one of my boys mentioned how he gravitates to rapping and writing when he is stressed or needs an outlet for his thoughts. This prompted a conversation about the therapeutic benefits of writing, and I was introduced to work of The Beat Within. The writing workshop models are such a powerful way to bring about restoration, healing and growth. The writing prompts not only give writers a way to access their thoughts and emotions, they also affirm the common thread of humanity we all share. I plan to use what I’ve learned from these programs to influence the way I teach and connect with students in my school, and will promote the work you are doing with other educators in our community.
I have been teaching for almost 15 years now, but what I’ve learned from the inmates who lead these programs has been the most valuable of all. I am grateful not only that programs like Kid CAT, SQUIRES and The Beat Within exist, but that they are radically influential and successful. Please keep up the restorative, education work that you are about. It is not going unnoticed.