Education and Emotional Literacy with the Lionheart Foundation

By Christopher Zoukis

As its website attests, the Lionheart Foundation “provides education, rehabilitation and reentry support to incarcerated men and women in prisons and jails throughout the United States.”  Their prison-based initiatives are one of the cornerstones of this foundation, but Lionheart also supports youth-at-risk programming as well as programming for teen parents.  The hub of the program for prisoners is based upon the book The Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom and is the basis for many teaching and mentoring initiatives for in-prison populations.  Image courtesy

Reduce Recidivism and Change Lives for the Better

The Lionheart Foundation is not the only prison education initiative in the country.  However, it is unusual because it is not focused merely on one region as many state-based initiatives are and because it is so closely connected to a book–a manual for a better life as some have dubbed it.  According to the foundation, hundreds of prison teachers, volunteers, and chaplains rely on Houses of Healing to help inmates focus on positive change and to embrace new opportunities like education.  The book is at the heart of the foundation’s National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners and there are now more than 130,000 copies in circulation.

What Does the Lionheart Foundation Do?

Though the foundation greatly promotes its initiatives designed for “emotional intelligence,” it also conducts education workshops for the public to better inform people about the needs of prisoners and the need for communities to help support their reentry and rehabilitation.  All of its programming is designed for at-risk populations like prison populations, juvenile delinquent centers, and teen parents in at-risk neighborhoods.  Along with promoting the values of justice, excellence, competence, and generosity, the Lionheart Foundation is also involved with a major research project supported by The National Institutes for Health.

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Emotional Baggage and Chaos in Our Communities

By D. A. Sears  Image courtesy
Our communities have become spiritually and psychologically toxic environments.   How did our communities get this way?  Chaos abounds.  Why?  Emotional baggage!
Let’s go back to the day that you were born.  When you emerged from the womb and entered the space and place we know as Planet Earth — our global village — your soul and your spirit were pure . . . intact . . . You were a whole person.  You were a sensitive, trusting, compassionate and loving soul.  You were curious about the new world you found yourself in.  You gurgled with joy and laughter when you were happy and amused.  You cried when you were hungry, angry or lonely in the hopes of getting the attention of the adults who were in your world so that you could get what you needed for your intellectual, physical, and emotional development.  As time progressed, you developed a vocabulary.  You began to speak — first in words — then in full sentences.  You reached a point where you could clearly articulate what you needed and wanted.  You learned these words and sentences from the adults in your immediate environment and from other children.  You asked questions about everything you saw, heard, and did not understand.  Your eyes sparkled with delight as you made new discoveries about the world inside and outside of your immediate environment.  You sang when you were happy.  You were resilient, enthusiastic, spontaneous, energetic, and so very imaginative. 
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