Student stories

Recreation and health education student works to improve lives of inmates

Christian Hauff

William Head Institution

Recreation and health education student Christian Hauff spent a co-op work term as a social programs practicum student at William Head Institution, a minimum security prison, where he worked to make an impact on the lives of inmates by planning and implementing programs to help prepare them for their release. Christian reflects on his co-op experience below.

Working at William Head Institution

William Head Institution is a minimum-security prison that currently holds almost 200 male inmates. Their main purpose is to prepare inmates to get back into society and integrate back into their community. William Head has a lot of different leisure services they offer ranging from access to a gym, library, hobby shop, chapel, baseball/soccer field, tennis courts, mini basketball court and more. They also have a well-established group called the WHo’S (William Head on Stage) who runs an annual play that attracts visitors to come watch the inmates perform. All the inmates are encouraged to join in the play. 

Life as a social programs practicum student

In my role, I had the opportunity to help create, implement, organize and run a variety of different programs and events. I got to teach a physical health and nutrition lesson in a community integration program for inmates who are set to get released in a year or less. As well, I got to get involved with the senior’s group where I listened to their needs and wants and ran a twice a week exercise program for them as well as a one-day physical health and nutrition workshop. Lastly, I arranged for multiple agencies including Vancity, Canada Revenue Agency, and The Office of Seniors Advocate to come in and give presentations to the inmate population to provide helpful information on the services that are available when they leave William Head.

What I learned from my co-op work term

In this role I learned a lot about working on program, lesson, and event planning, including establishing appropriate deadlines, scheduling regular meetings, checking inventory numbers, listening to peoples' wants and needs, and doing the necessary research. This learning experience is very connected to recreation and health as the aspects of program planning are essential skills to have for some of my targeted career paths in the field. This experience has reinforced my ultimate future goal of wanting to give back to my local community and enhance peoples overall physical, mental, and nutritional health.

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