The Casper Reentry Center, a residential reentry program in Wyoming, is keeping its residents occupied this season with prosocial reentry programming that incorporates fun events and educational presentations. Prosocial activities are a smart and evidence-based approach to helping individuals who exhibit antisocial behaviors recognize the greater world around them and how they can fit into it in a positive way.
CRC residents are a diverse group of men and women referred from the Wyoming Department of Corrections, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Independent 638 Tribes, Natrona County Circuit Court and local Municipal courts.
Throughout August and September, staff from the CRC and community partners helped to organize several events and educational activities that promoted well-being, prosocial attitudes and camaraderie with other residents.
Zentangle to boost self-esteem and manage anger
Residents of the Native American Residential Treatment Program took part in a class in early August on the meditative art of Zentangle, which is an easy-to-learn, relaxing method of art that creates beautiful images through drawing structured patterns.
“This art form has many benefits,” Jody Halferty, a certified Zentangle teacher, artist, and instructor for the RTP class, said. “Zentangle helps with stress management, self-esteem, anger management and offers an increased sense of personal accomplishment. It is a stress-free way to unlock your artistic potential.” There are no erasers in Zentangle, and each person draws each stroke consciously and deliberately, Mrs. Halferty said.
Zentangle is a great art form for those who believe they have no artistic talent or who lack a creative outlet because it removes the intimidation of facing a blank sheet of paper. To begin, you place four dots on the page. “We are always looking for new tools that our residents can use to improve their lives and increase their chances of success,” Sherri Martin, RTP program director, said. “This artistic method has very real therapeutic value.”
For the activity, each resident received their own Zentangle starter kit which included a Sakura pen, No. 2 pencil, a small tortillion, and 4-by-4 sheets of Bristol art paper. Mrs. Halferty taught the residents seven Zentangle patterns. She also demonstrated how to incorporate their own designs and color into their art.
Following the class, the residents placed all of their art side-by-side and photographed their successes.
The great American eclipse
Thanks to CRC Director Joshua Brown, staff and residents at the center did not miss out on August’s Great American Eclipse. The center was in the path of totality for the eclipse, which was only viewable in the United States.
Director Brown purchased safety glasses for all at the facility to view the eclipse, which turned day to night for a matter of minutes. “It was really an awesome sight,” he said. “We witnessed something that is truly unique, something much bigger than us. I did not want our staff and residents to miss it, and I wanted to make sure everyone at CRC was prepared with the correct eyewear to experience this amazing natural occurrence.”
The town of Casper experienced record numbers of people to view the eclipse, with the local airport reporting that approximately 200 private planes were expected to touch down on the tarmac.
The weather proved to be perfect, a nearly cloudless sky that allowed all at the center a unique experience not to be missed.
Learning leadership through teleconference
To help residents learn leadership skills, the Highland Park Community Church arranged for the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, organized by Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, to be teleconferenced to the CRC.
“This was a unique opportunity for residents to be involved with a teleconference on a topic like leadership,” Anna George, CSW, program counselor at the CRC, said. “It was well received, and provided an introduction for new ideas and ways of looking at themselves.”
The residents in attendance are undergoing modified Therapeutic Community treatment at Casper, and largely enjoyed the experience. For many, it was the first time in a while that they had thought of themselves as being potential leaders. For others, it was a way to visualize the possibility of finding a calling in life bigger than the mistakes of the past. Others found specific speakers to be meaningful, while several mentioned being inspired by the keynote speaker, a woman who survived the Rwandan genocide and underwent a journey of forgiveness.
The speakers, from varied places and careers, spoke on a theme of passion for their work and on the desire to better themselves at every stage. Although participation was optional, a large majority of residents attended. Staff of the facility also had a chance to benefit from the training, and many came away with renewed vision, purpose and skills.
School supply drive for Natrona County
During another activity, residents and staff had the opportunity to serve the surrounding Natrona County area by helping to gather school supplies for children in need. CRC’s Adult Community Corrections (ACC) resident council members decided in June they wanted to participate in the “Stuff the Bus” challenge, a project that began in 2011 and is designed to provide children from low-income families with necessary school supplies.
“Community outreach is often a rewarding venture for residents and staff in reentry treatment programming facilities, enabling residents to have a chance at giving back to the community in a positive way,” said Director Brown. “We are very proud of the residents and staff of the Casper Reentry Center for the fantastic job they did supporting back-to-school efforts for children in the county.”
By the end of August, residents collected two large boxes of donations — including backpacks, paper, pencils, notebooks, crayons, markers, colored pencils and additional supplies — to assure the children had a good start to the school year.
Overall, the CRC utilizes a modified TC treatment model to provide case management, work release and transitional services to misdemeanant and felony offenders with substance use disorders. The TC program is offered as an intensive 12-month therapeutic program that focuses on counseling, substance abuse treatment, peer-led seminars, daily small group sessions, daily house meetings and weekly family therapy.
For more information on GEO Reentry’s general residential programming, click here.