“In a makeshift classroom at a correctional facility in Southern Ontario, some 20 students – half of them incarcerated at the facility – sit in a circle alongside a professor. While the professor is responsible for framing discussion topics and structuring class activities, students are encouraged to direct comments at their peers, linking personal perspectives and experiences to the class readings. The students are participating in the Walls to Bridges (W2B) program, which was launched by the faculty of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2011.”
I recently had the opportunity to complete the W2B facilitator training at the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a federal prison located approximately 100 km west of Toronto. Connecting with a wonderful group of educational reformers and anti-prison activists, both established and aspiring, made for a truly amazing week of learning. I’m grateful especially to the “inside” and Toronto collectives, the groups of currently and formerly incarcerated women whose experiences move and teach us so much.
Photo: Alison Rowan