The First Step Curriculum

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In 2010, a group of men at San Quentin State Prison decided to get together to discuss forming a new group at the prison, one that would specifically cater to the needs of the “Juvenile Lifer” community. What began as an initiative to present in the form of a senate bill, the direction quickly shifted to one of accountability, community service, and the responsibility to make amends for the crimes that the founders had created by their commitment offenses. They decided since they committed crimes in their youth, they would give back to the youth of today. They formed Kid Creating Awareness Together (C.A.T.), whose mission is to inspire humanity through education, mentorship, and restorative practices. In addition to a number of Kid C.A.T. projects, the founders were challenged to provide the San Quentin population with something that would benefit their quality of life. They decided to design a self-help curriculum that would focus on the development of the self. That curriculum is now know as The First Step. The First Step has been made available to all California prison with the intention to one day reach every prison, and beyond.

The purpose of Kid C.A.T.’s The First Step program is to help participants understand their life development, beginning with their childhood. By understanding the origins of who and how they have come to be today, this program helps participants gain a deeper awareness of their present day thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The First Step offers participants the opportunity to connect their life dots; to heal the relationship between childhood and present day; and prepare for a more conscious, accountable, empowered, and successful life.

Program Description

Objectives

  • Identify and explore the origins of life development by focusing on their child self.    

  • Recognize the continuation of childhood thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in their current incarcerated life. 

  • Understand the relationship between their adult and child selves. 

  • Practice and demonstrate their life plan for moving forward. 

  • Apply a deeper respect and appreciation for self and others through the tools provided in this program.

About The First Step Program

The First Step program offers participants a place to gain a deeper understanding of their self through the work of writing and sharing; listening to the stories of others; videos, engaging lectures, and interactive activities. Together, participants will work towards a common goal of introducing and better acquainting their adult self with their child self. 

This program is designed to follow the same format through the eight modules: pre- incarceration (past), incarceration (present), and post-incarceration (future). The program is divided into nine, three-week modules, each class two hours. 

Participants will experience large group dialogues, guest lectures, small (breakout) groups, and activities. The First Step is a twenty-eight (28) week program, including three weeks for participant/program introductions, and program completion/closing. The following are the program’s modules: 

  1. Identifying Emotions & Sensations 

  2. Self Identities 

  3. Masculinity 

  4. Communication 

  5. Environmental Influences 

  6. Consequences 

  7. Empathy/Compassion 

  8. Forgiveness 

  9. Trauma 

 

The First Step is a harm-reduction program; we do not aim to create harm, but to unravel past pains in order to foster an environment of learning, personal growth, and healing. 

The first step to preparing for and living a more connected and meaningful life is to begin by understanding your self.