Prison Freedom Project: Yoga in prisons

Some friends of mine run a small not-for-profit organisation called SevaUnite. They’re trying to grow an amazing initiative, The Prison Freedom Project, and are requesting your help.

Prisons are not working. Globally, we incarcerate 10.2-million people. And this number is growing every year, despite the fact that imprisonment is a highly expensive option, (costing $90 billion a year in the USA alone) as well as being ineffective for the majority of prisoners (60%-90% of inmates commit crimes within three months of release).

Imagine a different world – where upon release, ex-cons become contributing members of society. The Prison Freedom Project is creating this change through yoga.

Many of you have seen how yoga, mindfulness and meditation can help you de-stress, gain perspective and better the way you treat yourselves and others. It is exactly for this reason that SevaUnite is taking yoga, mindfulness and meditation to prisons – to help reduce violence, hate and reoffence.

YOU CAN HELP

Visit their Indiegogo Page to donate to this revolutionary cause or visit their website.

SevaUnite logo

Short summary, BIG Reality

Globally, incarceration rates are at an all time high. The costs of incarceration weigh heavily on government budgets and more importantly, the statistics tell us that prisons don’t work. Going to prison increases, not decreases, the chances of committing a crime. Overwhelmingly, prisons are not rehabilitation centers but places of violence, shame and punishment. In the words of an inmate currently enrolled in the Prison Freedom Project:

YOU can help to break this cycle and build healthier individuals and safer communities right now. Support a very simple approach to rehabilitation. Support The Prison Freedom Project.

Why The Prison Freedom Project?

TRUE freedom is an inside job. SevaUnites provides inmates with the tools of yoga and mindfulness practices – through classes, correspondence courses and mentorship.  With regular practice, they develop self-awareness, forgiveness and personal responsibility. This experience is so profoundly transformative, that they are inspired to share these practices with their fellow prisoners.

The strength of this project is that it’s self-seeding.

  • SevaUnites teaches one yoga class.
  • An inmate is inspired.
  • He receives the free manual, starts to teach himself and then to teach others.
  • One inmate can inspire hundreds! It’s simple.

After participating in the The Prison Freedom Project, the likelihood of reoffending upon release is dramatically reduced. Quantifying this reduction is part of SevaUnites long-term plan, however there is no shortage of evidence of the deep qualitative impact they have already had on a myriad of individuals.

Your support will help SevaUnite to:

  • Expand – They currently hold five weekly classes in three facilities. They want to teach 12 weekly classes in five facilities by 2016.
  • Produce materials  – EVERY person they reach receives a free Teach Yourself Yoga booklet. One booklet costs $1. They hand out approximately 100 per week to new students. Internet access is not a privilege for prisoners.
  • Course Development – $35 takes one inmate through SevaUnite’s six-month Correspondence Course. Printed materials reach facilities they are unable to access, spreading the programme further. It will cost an estimated $55 for an inmate to complete the teachers training course.
  • Train & support volunteers – SevaUnite loves their volunteers; their selfless giving is priceless. Help support their placement and travel costs.
  • Evaluate – SevaUnite needs to demonstrate the effectiveness of their programme through monitoring and evaluation as to sustain the programme, they require proven results.

The impact: True stories

SevaUnite is so inspired by the transformation taking place. These are just a few of the experiences shared by The Prison Freedom Project participants in their correspondence with SevaUnite.

Get involved: There are so many ways to support this campaign

  • Make a donation – Just $10 can assist 10 inmates with the free Teach Yourself Yoga Booklet.
  • Spread the word – Share the campaign with your social media network. People often want to help, they just don’t how, or where to go. Talk about this project with your friends and family.
  • Based in South Africa? Interested in volunteering in a correctional facility? Reach out to SevaUnite, they can make it happen.

Like SevaUnite on Facebook |  facebook.com/SevaUnite
Visit their website  |  www.sevaunite.org

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