The Minister of Social Development and Sports, Michael Weeks and National Security Minister Wayne Caines attended the completion ceremony this week for the ‘Peace Within: Prison Yoga Pilot Programme’ at the St George’s Co-Educational Facility and the Prison Farm.

Running from January 22 to March 12, 2018, the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation worked with yoga instructor Shanell Vaughn to introduce an eight-week pilot programme consisting of two yoga classes per week of trauma-sensitive yoga into the east end facility.

A spokesperson said: “With the help Vocational Coordinator at Corrections Mrs Dwanita Grant and Corrections staff, the ‘Peace Within’ programme has introduced yoga to five women and one female officer at the Co-Ed Facility as well as nine men and one male officer at the ‘Right Living House’.”

Ms Vaughn, the lead instructor, said she is excited for the future of the programme, which is “committed to breaking the cycle of individual suffering and to offering people behind bars the opportunity to heal, grow and prepare for their return to our communities through the practices of yoga.

“As part of the pilot’s rehabilitative mission, each class is couched in the yogic principle of ‘ahimsa’ – meaning do not harm oneself or others, on or off the mat and many of the participants already report feeling more peaceful, more relaxed and healthier in their bodies,” she said.

“It is deeply rewarding for me to witness the eagerness of these men and women to learn, and to support them in discovering that they have the power within themselves to master their own mind, body and emotions through the peaceful practice of yoga.”

Minister Weeks added: “For many of the participants this is the first time they’ve ever tried yoga and I understand that all of the inmates involved expressed hope that the programme would be extended beyond the eight-week window.

“I am grateful to the dedicated staff at the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation for their ingenuity to facilitate this truly inspiring pilot programme.”

Minister Caines congratulated the successful participants and commended both the Department of Corrections and the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation for their positive and successful partnership.

  • Feature Photo Courtesy of DCI