In Washington state and Rhode Island, Path of Freedom (POF) facilitators are training prisoner graduates to become POF facilitators. One of these prisoner-facilitators, in Washington, offered an innovative new method. He prepared by drawing several dozen bricks on the chalkboard. Each brick looked damaged. Some had chipped corners. Above the bricks, he wrote a few phrases:
“Out with the Old”
“no foundation all the way down the line til now”
He asked the men to reflect on what was broken, what negativities they were feeling/dealing with that hadn’t worked for them in their life? As an example, he wrote on one of the bricks:
“below the line living”
After a short sharing, the men wrote behaviors and beliefs that hadn’t served them on the broken bricks.
On the chalkboard ledge, were 12 3-D cardstock bricks each with one one the 12 qualities of an empowered person written on it. After the men finished filling in the broken bricks, the facilitator said “we can build a new foundation using these bricks.” He guided a discussion on their meaning and how they might empower one’s life.
This was the ‘graduation’ of a 7 week class. The facilitator had outlined with masking tape a 12 brick square foundation on the floor in the middle of the classroom with an opening on one side. When the men received their certificate, they selected one of the empowerment bricks and placed it in the diagram on the floor. Men shared why they selected the quality they did. At the end, the facilitator asked why there was an opening in the foundation wall design. After some discussion, it surfaced that that space, that gap was instrumental in supporting one’s ability to choose what qualities to engage with and which ‘broken’ habits/beliefs to let go of.
In this process, one participant said “I’m seeing so many things that haven’t worked for me. Each of those things was like a brick in my foundation, in who I saw myself as being- like angry and victim and addicted. Those are broken bricks that don’t support me. But now I know I have a choice to replace those broken, chipped bricks with new bricks; I can build a new foundation made from unhooking from drama and all the other tools I’m learning to use.”
Another said “one of my broken bricks has been depression. I’m realizing that I can tune into gratitude and appreciation to help me work with that unhelpful thinking.”