For those who don’t know me, my name is Nicole Hellthaler, and I am PYP’s Assistant Director. I live in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I offer yoga to youth and adults at county detention centers.
Since I began working with PYP in 2018, I’ve always been impressed that our leadership team also brings yoga inside. It keeps us intimately connected with our mission.
Teaching yoga inside, I get to witness firsthand the relief from suffering and the potential for transformation. This felt experience drives me to want to reach more and more incarcerated people. With an M.A. in Public Service, I know that demonstrating the impact and importance of our work with quantitative and qualitative data is essential for us to continue to expand.
In 2022, we’ll continue to reboot the 120 in-prison programs paused during the pandemic and look for new opportunities to offer yoga and mindfulness in jails and prisons across the US. As we do so, we’ll be implementing monitoring and evaluation processes developed during the pandemic pause to precisely demonstrate the value of our programs, including weekly attendance collection and quarterly feedback surveys from participants.
Data collection takes extra effort, especially working within prison bureaucracies. The effort is paying off, though, with more contracted services and grant-funded programs, growing the number of people we serve.
Institutions justify funded programs with this evidence. Foundations are willing to invest where they see demonstrated impact. Our facilitators deserve to be paid for their work, and we think it’s a good sign when the system starts to invest in this healing.
As we grow and mature as an organization, we could use your support to sustain the extra effort required to demonstrate our impact and increase the number of incarcerated people we are able to reach.
Can we count on your contribution? You can give online at www.prisonyoga.org/donate.
Wishing you peace in the New Year!
Prison Yoga Project