A decade ago, H-Unit began running a number of self-help programs designed to draw awareness to the need for emotional growth and personal empowerment. Now, as a result of the efforts of both staff facilitators and inmate-participants, the H-Unit Stand Up! program continues to help inmates develop their communication skills.
In commemoration of 10 years of Stand Up!, participants recently organized an ice cream and cake social in the H-Unit dining hall. “Our hope is to use this celebration as a welcoming beacon to the general population that these worthwhile programs are here to help improve their lives,” said Stand Up! facilitator Jim Ward.
More than 150 inmate representatives from the various Stand Up! programs — such as Victims Offender Education Group, IMPACT, Non-Violent Communication and This Sacred Space — attended the commemoration.
The consensus among those in attendance was that, if a person has a desire to change and a willingness to make certain sacrifices, then Stand Up! can change their lives.
“Stand Up! means I get a chance to experience a real life that I never thought possible,” said Steve McAllister, a participant in VOEG and several 12-step programs.
Other inmates who have taken advantage of Stand Up! share McAllister’s feelings.
“The program has made me more aware of personal issues I need to address,” said inmate Cleo Franks, who participated in Non-Violent Communication. “Stand Up! is preparing me to make better choices when I parole.”
The Stand Up! program has garnered a tremendous amount of collective group support from the general population. Ward and his staff of inmate workers advocate the program as a creative outlet for productive change. The group holds “Stand Up!” orientations every Wednesday for all H-Unit inmates from 10 a.m. to noon.