It’s Saturday evening after an adventurous week. I am sitting with my tea and trying to digest all the information I got over the last two days of an intensive training. I have just read the security reminders, system descriptions and other content of a coach kit. It looks like I am really going to start visiting prisons and coaching young people on their way to freedom. Wow!
It has all started one long night in September. Few weeks of consideration, and bum! I finally decided to try. It was about 1 a.m., I sat down and answered a long, long questionnaire. No proofreading, no advices from anybody, just go!
Two weeks later I received an email with an interview confirmation. I had a wonderful Skype conversation with the lead of the recruitment project. Soon after, they invited me for one of their all day long assessment centres. The assessment had a form of a group coaching session with twelve other coaches on board. It is hard to imagine twelve people that are more diverse than we were. Everybody in their on specific way. Various accents, skin types not to talk about personalities. During the interview trainers asked us many crazy questions such as at what time do we like to wake up, how tolerant is Donal Trump or how strongly we believe people should be imprisoned and why. We also had some sample coaching sessions with the clients they provided.
Another few weeks and a decision. I was chosen to participate in the next stage of the process – five days training. The last day was on Thursday. From twenty four coaches that met the original criteria we ended up in a group of nine. Absolutely crazy party. Big, short, black, white, serious, funny, energetic, calm, quiet, loud. Each of us is an individual.
However, this training was not about us. We met for five days over the last three months with the goal to learn how to effectively help young people unlock their potential on the way out of prison. The program was designed for 15-24 year old man who are about to come back to the outside community. This is an age when people are still flexible and have the biggest potential to change. The problem is that without a helping hand, the transformation is not very likely to occur. The national average reoffending rate is about 45%. 45% of those young people is going to the prison again and again after a short visit to the outside world. Many of them dream about regular life, family and work, but have no hope that it is possible in their case. Nobody ever wanted to hear their story but everybody had an opinion on how they should live. They do not see the possibility to change things.
We believe that past should not determine the future so much. Thanks to the two step program offered by this organization, the rate of reoffending falls to about 10%. Young people get their power and hope back again.
The whole idea is concentrated around the Hero’s journey. A concept which was created in 1871 by an anthropologist Edward Taylor that noticed common patterns in hero’s myths and stories of different cultures. According to his words, in all stories of this kind there is always a hero who goes on an adventure from his known world to the world that is absolutely new and unknown to him. He has to fight his own fears while passing the threshold of a change. Then there is always a period of deep crisis, death and rebirth. After that difficult time our hero comes back changed and transformed bringing gifts to the community he arose from.
Our job in prisons would be to organize small group workshops that let young people to experience that they have a choice between being a life-long victim of circumstances and hero of their own successful hero’s journey. During the workshops, the coachees have a chance to understand how the change happens and how to navigate it.
Thanks to the 1-to-1 coaching that follows, the training participants learn how to identify and challenge their own limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. They develop greater resilience and self-awareness; build a more positive self-identity and identify future goals that excite them.
Now I wait for my vetting to be finish. Before I start my little helping program I need to be approved by the Ministry of Justice. Who knows what time will bring.
I wanted you to know about this idea because I feel that we often forget how gifted we are by having a family, good work or just a one real friend that we can talk to. I would like you to think about these young people every time you feel blocked, unheard and hopeless. I know, that they are in prison for a reason. But there is also a reason behind our problems, it can but doesn’t have to be totally our fault.
Let’s try to treat our problems as the difficult part of our own hero’s journey. And if we currently are perfectly happy, let’s send a thought or a penny to those who at the moment have little less luck or opportunities than we have.
Our little help could be a turning point in somebody’s life.