We believe in second chances, rooted in evidence-based instruction, genuine compassion, and accountability. Generous donors have enabled us to offer resiliency training to help ex-offenders change their mindset, behaviors and life skills for the good. Our foundation is based on the mantra that resilience is a learned behavior. The project provides an opportunity to learn and apply a new way of thinking and being that will lead to a healthier, happier, more productive life.
Participants who attend our Resilience Training face extreme challenges as they transition to post-prison life, in employment, housing, family and community relationships. Most struggled as children to survive in families that were not safe, secure or nurturing. Their parents often engaged in crime and substance abuse. One hundred percent of participants have had family or friends die from a drug overdose.
All participants in the training have been convicted of felonies. All have been incarcerated, are currently on parole or probation, and are under the jurisdiction of the Utah Courts, supervised by the Division of Corrections. Incarceration was usually due to multiple drug and distribution violations.
What they have endured is inconceivable --chaos, bondage, addiction, poverty, paranoia, crime, punishment, neglect and constant turmoil from a very early age. They have squandered precious time growing up that should have been used developing life skills. They have suffered illness, physical pain, loneliness, homelessness, and spiritual dislocation. They are stripped of common dignity and a productive purpose for life.
Dr. Zylstra’s motivation as an instructor is a personal quest to understand and support a population of people who have struggled so deeply and have lost so much. He has an intense need to share his talents and compassion with them to teach them personal resiliency in mind, body, and spirit.
Dr. Zylstra teaches a unique perspective of human behavior that inspires and motivates. He teaches that empowerment is opportunity, resilience is possible, and positive expectations enhance positive outcome. Dr. Zylstra has created research-based personal empowerment programs that are designed to instill personal power, stimulate resiliency, enhance spiritual awareness, and inspire hope and purpose.
Resilience lessons utilize the insights of prophets, philosophers, writers, teachers, movie-makers, and scientists. The evidence-based lessons have depth and are connected to contemporary and personal circumstances. Pavlov, Skinner, William James, Viktor Frankl, Nietzsche, Jonas Salk, Anne Sullivan, Henry Knox and others of that caliber are dialogued. Participants learn about how life enrichment will build new neural connections, reduce impulsive, emotional reactivity, and strengthen problem-solving ability. Participants learn from each other and from Dr. Zylstra that they are not alone in their struggle to live a dignified life. Lessons are reinforced with metaphors and object lessons.
The Adult and Teen Resiliency Programs, strengthen belief in the ability to effectively cope with the present and to strategically direct the course of one’s life. The children’s program, Strategic Personal Resiliency for Kids (SPRK), is a child/mentor program that focuses on the development and enhancement of resiliency and self-reliance.
Dr. Zylstra is a guest lecturer and presenter, and works as an instructor with adult probation and parole. He has served as a member of the board of trustees in the HIARC organization for 11 years. He has also worked as a school psychologist and administrator. Dr. Zylstra graduated with a Ph.D. in psychology.
LeNise graduated from Brigham Young University with Masters and Psychology Specialist degrees. She is active in mentoring children and adults by facilitating and expediting resilient, hardy behavior. She is a personal empowerment and resiliency teacher, and presenter at integrative health conferences. In addition, she teaches anger management and parenting classes, and counsels with youth and their parents.
LeNise has also served as project coordinator of a team that provided family support and advocacy in strengthening protective factors in children and families. She worked for many years as a school psychologist where she mentored graduate level practicum students and interns and chaired school-wide character education and anti-drug programs.
ALBERT AND LENISE'S
"Have confidence, stick with an intelligent action plan, be teachable, be resilient by bouncing back from setbacks----everyone needs these skills to succeed in life!"
"Adjust when necessary, learn new, healthy behaviors. You are teachable, flexible and infinitely intelligent. There is a sleeping giant in you; Awaken the giant! Let the giant make a showing today!"
"Rebound. Do it for yourself, you are worthy of self-respect and self-love. Your determination to be in charge of your life and make a difference is in your hands."
"Put the negatives of your past in a place only you can call a memory. Live for the gift that is today. The direction you are headed is more important than where you have been."
In 2017 (the first year we launched Ex-Offender project under HIARC's funding) we taught 120 classes to 94 participants and graduated 61 participants (graduation is completing 8 or more of the 12-class series. We added classes for women in late 2017.)
In 2018 we conducted 184 classes for 215 participants, graduated 96 participants.
In 2019, we expect to conduct 190 classes for an estimated 250 participants, graduating at least 100 participants.
In 2019, we will initiate a follow up study of our graduates based on personal interviews conducted by the trainers, Al and LeNise Zylstra. We want to understand who is successfully integrating into peaceful, productive roles in society, and who is failing. Most importantly, we want to understand the key factors to success, or lack of it, and what role our resilience training played in helping them succeed. We will disseminate the results of our findings through the Utah Corrections Department and will use the feedback to align our findings with our training.