Restorative Partners strives to provide programs and classes for inmates, in hopes of reducing mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Over the years, doTERRA Wellness Advocate Cynthia McCabe has had the opportunity to work with incarcerated individuals within many capacities. In the 90s, Cynthia worked as a dance therapist in a maximum security state hospital. Three years ago, she felt inspired to offer her talents and experience to inmates once again, and joined the efforts of a group called Restorative Partners.
Through Restorative Partners, Cynthia volunteers to help inmates at the San Luis Obispo County Jail. The organization offers a wide range of programs including non-violent communication classes, art classes, Bible study, tutoring, book clubs, and more. Restorative Partners works with adult jails, the Juvenile Offender System, and with volunteers in the community who are willing to mentor inmates who will eventually reside in the county once they are released.
Currently, Cynthia volunteers as a yoga and meditation instructor with Restorative Partners, working particularly with the “Men’s Honor Farm.” This branch of the San Luis Obispo County criminal justice system consists of non-violent offenders who serve their time in a less secure setting.
For many inmates, yoga and meditation provide an escape from the often depressing environment of a criminal justice system. While it is common for incarcerated individuals to suffer from psychiatric disorders before incarceration, a recent study shows that incarceration can lead to mood-related disorders like major depression.1
Because many inmates feel depressed or anxious due to their circumstances, it can be helpful to have distracting and constructive activities (like those offered by Restorative Partners) planned throughout the week. Conditions like depression can have a serious effect on incarcerated individuals after their release, which is why many correctional facilities choose to provide activities that encourage personal development and human interaction.
Speaking of those she works with, Cynthia says, “These men are incredibly grateful for the services we offer, and are very fun to teach. They are focused and open. They know that they need help and are willing to be exposed to modalities which give them respite from the stressors of incarceration.”
Despite the other responsibilities in her life, Cynthia makes her volunteer work a priority. She says she feels motivated to volunteer because she has such freedom and love in her own life. Cynthia says, “Incarcerated individuals have always called to me as I believe that there is a fine line within many of us and that, given different circumstances and events, we may be closer to them than we think.”