Saskatoon inmates connect with their kids through Bedtime Stories program
SASKATOON -- Tim Yaworski says he would have prejudged the inmates in the Bedtime Stories Program before being involved - but now has a new perspective.
"They're people who have families, they are people who love people and have people who love them, but they just made a bad decision in their lives and what I saw was an ordinary dad wanting to maintain that connection with their kid."
The Bedtime Stories Program links dads at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre with their kids on the outside by having them read books via video. The program is part of the restorative justice program through the Roman Catholic Diocese in Saskatoon.
Yaworski works with the team of volunteers as the videographer and editor. The children get a DVD of their dad reading, which is delivered in a backpack with pajamas and a copy of the book, most of which have a handwritten message from their dad.
"I thought this is my chance to actually be able to move out of my comfort zone. I had never been in a correctional institution before and saw this as a way to use my own particular skillset and be able to do some good with it," Yaworski said.
The program has been operating for four years and has involved between 30 and 50 inmates. They are chosen based on the age of their children, who must be younger than eight. The inmates also can't have any non-contact orders in place with their family.
Diann Block, the jail's cultural coordinator, said the more contact inmates have with their family and children, the less chance there is of them reoffending."
The inmates are grateful for the opportunity to connect this way with their family; some even start crying while they are reading, she said.
"It means a lot to them."