THE WRITING CIRCLE
Through our Alumni Program, we start off our student's journey to healing and redemption through our Writing Circles which are used as a catalyst for personal transformation. Most of our students are normally first introduced to IOW while incarcerated, giving them the opportunity to build trusting relationships with us and use creative writing as a healing tool prior to receiving more comprehensive services once they are released. Students who are referred to us absent of having been a part of our program inside detention facilities are able to join our Writing Circles at our office which normally prompt immediate interest and engagement in the comprehensive services we offer. Upon initial contact with students who seek to enroll in our Alumni Program, which includes our Writing Circle, we conduct face-to-face comprehensive assessments that are culturally responsive, strengths-based, healing-oriented and trauma-informed.
Our powerful Writing Circles, which are led by writing teachers that include award-winning screenwriters, professional writers, journalists, educators, artists, and social justice activists are the icing on the cake for our clients. Through our writing circles, youth have been empowered to accept responsibility for their wrongs, embrace and appreciate their journey and who they are today, and prepare for a future that is not defined by their past. Not only have we seen a reduction in recidivism by 90% of our youth, but past participants have moved on to be successful entrepreneurs, professionals, educators and college graduates that often return to provide mentorship and encouragement to current youth. The services we provide to over 1,500 participants annually, directly relate and tie to the services that will be provided through this grant award and will support job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, system navigation services, legal services and linkage to medical care.