ICAN and Tow Wellness Grant Self-Care Retreat

The 2022 ICAN Self-Care Retreat brought together more than 30 members of the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network from June 2-4 at University of Scranton’s Conference and Retreat Center at Chapman Lake in Pennsylvania. We are extremely grateful for The Tow Foundation, whose Wellness and Community Care Program Expansion made this experience possible. 

This retreat brought the opportunity to rest and renew, while also developing and deepening personal and professional relationships. The programming emphasized that self-care is an important component of ICAN members’ full and healthy reintegration into society and their ability to be effective in their work. Retreat attendees enjoyed playing kickball, relaxing outdoors, eating good food, and catching up with old friends (and making new friends, too!). 

“For me, the self care retreat was an amazing experience. Having like minded brothers and sisters with the same circumstances and tribulations as myself was the most rewarding moment for me. I’m appreciative and thankful for being given this opportunity. I met some wonderful and kindhearted people that I now consider family. Leaving was the hardest part, but nonetheless I wouldn’t change it for the world.” – Angel Reyes DeJesus, ICAN Member

All ICAN members were incarcerated for serious crimes as children, and many spent several decades in prison without the hope of parole. Because of reforms during the last decade – including those led by the CFSY – many of these individuals are now home. They are demonstrating that they are all more than the worst thing they have ever done and that children have the capacity to grow and change. They are striving to make amends for the harm they have caused, seeking to change their communities and the world, and working to implement age-appropriate, trauma-informed accountability measures for other children.

“This retreat was everything to me. I loved playing kickball, it took me back to my childhood.” Don Jones, ICAN Member

The retreat was an opportunity for ICAN members to realize the importance of truly slowing down from their daily grind and taking time to care for their minds and bodies. It was a platform to address the gap in self-care that many folks experience upon coming home from prison, remind them that they deserve wholeness, and offer resources for continuing along this path. The CFSY is thrilled to be able to support ICAN members’ personal, professional, and leadership development and help provide clearer pathways to success in this new chapter of their lives. 

“This is the 5th year that we had our community-care/self-care experience and it was so powerful and uplifting in so many ways. I was allowed to be a part of our ICAN community healing and to watch my brothers and sisters laugh, cry, smile, and having uplifting conversations brought so much joy to my heart. The best way to help people heal is within a community because they’re not healing alone.” – Eddie Ellis, Co-Director of Outreach & Member Services