Students Visit "We Care" Program at Soledad Prison
On Monday, March 9th, a group of Rancho Cielo students in the Agriculture & Construction programs attended the "WE CARE" program at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) prison in Soledad, CA. At 5 a.m., the students hopped on a van driven by our coordinators to spend a whole day learning from CTF inmates. Our Rancho Cielo students donned orange jumpsuits and ate breakfast. They then went to go hear life stories told by inmates inside the Correctional Training Facility who were serving anywhere between 26 to 160 years of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The "WE CARE" program mentors made a connection with each of the students by encouraging dialogue between inmates and Rancho Cielo students. The prison mentors from the program explained their lives before incarceration and how they now live their daily lives with other cellmates living inside a tiny, closet-like cell. They talked about how they are continuing to face the consequences of their poor choices and the actions that were made in their youth. The mentors made sure the students were engaged and made the effort to listen to each student who may have trauma of their own. Mentors encouraged our students to not make the same mistakes they had.
Many of our students were skeptical and nervous to attend the "WE CARE" field trip. The program is not an intimidation or scared straight program. It focuses on honest conversations about real-life issues that our students face each day. These Rancho Cielo Students also completed commitment cards which will help them work on accomplishing their life goals. Students will have the opportunity to keep in touch with their mentors.
Thank you to Edna, Julia, Gus, the "WE CARE" CTF Coordinator, the Warden, and the mentors of this program for the great experience we were granted.