Create: New Beginnings, Prison Fellowship's unique restorative art program for incarcerated women, recently celebrated a graduation at the Kate Barnard Correctional Facility in Oklahoma.
Recently Kate Barnard Correctional Facility was the site of Prison Fellowship’s second Create: New Beginnings® graduating class! Stephanie Segel and Annie Goebel, from the Create: New Beginnings national team, traveled to Kate Barnard to hand out graduation certificates.
Rooted in Scripture and the core values of the Prison Fellowship Academy®, Create: New Beginnings is a welcome opportunity for incarcerated women. Participants acknowledge critical emotions and develop self-awareness through the lens of artistic expression. Ten workshops guide women behind bars through restorative topics, all in a faith-based environment of introspection, healing, and community support. Through artwork, participants in this program develop a sense of community, restoration, peace, purpose, and identity.
THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2020
The graduating group did a workshop on accountability, which was taught by local Prison Fellowship® volunteers. The participants discussed what it means to be personally accountable for one's actions. They also completed a still life of a flower of their choice, called their "accountability flower," as a lasting reminder of their commitment to responsibility. As a bonus, the ladies got to keep their own fresh flower—a rare piece of natural beauty in the dreary environment of prison. Annie Goebel mentions, "I remember them walking back to their dorms holding and smelling them."
In Create: New Beginnings,
- Participants engage in 10 modules covering the following restorative topics: vulnerability, emotions, self-doubt, shame, empathy, accountability, forgiveness, courage, pride, and reconciliation.
- Participants are guided as they use art as a means of expression and communication to explore areas they may never have addressed before.
- Participants individually and collectively work toward healing and personal growth in an atmosphere of community and creativity.
Lyn Holmes, one of the lead facilitators of Create: New Beginnings at Kate Barnard, shares some powerful words about what God is doing through the program:
"I think [Create: New Beginnings] was a godsend. … It was difficult for the ladies to get used to living in B Quad together, where they were involved in a lot of drama and conflict. They had difficulty relating to each other nicely and had a hard time trusting each other enough to share their feelings in class. Create: New Beginnings, however, was like a calm in the storm. They started to relax as they got into the projects and began to be able to share in class. Explaining their creation made it easier for them to talk about their experiences. I am so glad Create: New Beginnings was included in our first round of classes because I believe it promoted their being able to open up and share experiences and feelings in our other two daytime classes."
Alongside Create: New Beginnings, the women also participated in two other weekly Prison Fellowship classes: Change Plan Personal Growth and Resolving Everyday Conflict.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
In their own words, the women at Kate Bernard sum up Create: New Beginnings as "awesome," "therapeutic," "healing," and "hopeful." Considering the circumstances due to COVID-19, this feedback is especially encouraging. "All the Chaplain could get from them were single words … But these were heartfelt," Lyn says. "They absolutely loved it."
We are so proud of each of these women. Not only did they complete all 10 workshops of our Create: New Beginnings program, but they also learned to open up to one another and allow God to work in them. Although is it currently on pause, we are looking forward to the future of Create: New Beginnings at this facility.
ABOUT STEPHANIE SEGEL
Stephanie Segel is the restorative art coordinator at Prison Fellowship. She co-created and facilitates Create: New Beginnings, a restorative art program, in women's prisons around the country.
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