By John Speer
Professor Rachel Williams, Warden Diane Wilder-Tomlinson, IJH student Brandi Brandt, and Linda Haack, volunteer coordinator at the women’s prison.
Friday the 13 proved to be a lucky day for students at the Iowa Juvenile Home/State Training School for Girls. Two weeks ago, the students received new, hand- crocheted blankets during a ceremony on their campus in Toledo.
The gifts came from another state institution- the women offenders at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women at Mitchellville. The women who created the blankets also wrote notes of encouragement to the students urging them to avoid the pitfalls they have encountered.
Rachel Williams, art professor at the University of Iowa and an Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation Board member was the catalyst for the project.
She taught the Mitchellville inmates how to knit and crochet as a rehabilitative class and linked their products to the IJH/Training School.
The program, dubbed 'Heart to Heart,' carried the theme "the adult offender can help the juvenile understand the importance of learning new ways to behave and how to develop appropriate and healthy relationships so that the juvenile can turn theri life around and avoid incarceration as an adult."
IJH/Trianing School Superintendent Deb Hanus said, "I saw this as a tremendous self-esteem builder for both the wmen makibf the blankets and the youth receivinbg the blankets.
"It is testament to the human spirit to have people reach out to others they don't even know. It touches everyone. I can see this project continuing
and the blasnekts could be provided to homeless shelters domestic violence safe houses and more across the state.
"I am hopeful that I can be ibnvolved in some way to fund raise for yarn supplies to have the women of Mitchellville to continue his program.
" This was a wonderful experience."