Try to imagine how difficult it must be for a child to visit an incarcerated loved one. A prison visiting room is sterile, intimidating, and cold, and it eliminates the possibility of normal human interaction. To rectify this deplorable situation, True Freedom Ministries installed a playground at Grafton Reintegration Center. This is a pilot program we hope to roll out across the state in the months ahead. This remarkable achievement was made possible by the generous contributions of our True Freedom partners.
To celebrate this exciting addition, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication service for the True Freedom Playground. Inmates who previously graduated from True Freedom programming and their families were invited to the ceremony and a cook-out reception.
True Freedom’s Executive Director, Mike Swiger, was quoted by the Elyria Chronicle Telegram as saying: “The way people interact with their families has a big effect on how they see themselves, and the vision for the playground was to allow dads in prison to be dads, to go out — and maybe sometimes have the first opportunity — to push their daughter on a swing or sit down at a picnic table and have lunch with their son. We’re allowing families to have a more natural environment to engage with.”
One of those dads is Zachary, who has been at the center for 18 months and will be there until September. He and his 2-year-old daughter have watched the playground go up, as she has visited him every weekend since his incarceration. He said it’s hard to keep a 2-year-old still, so now the playground will help her run out some of her energy.
“It’s absolutely amazing, this being a reintegration camp we’re afforded more opportunities than most to help reconnect with our family,” he said. “And an opportunity like this playground gave me something to hold onto while I am incarcerated and build new relationships with my daughter that I wouldn’t have anywhere else but here in Grafton.”
Dearest True Freedom Partners, please recognize the amazing picture of God’s grace, the abundant overflow of His love, that is represented by your gift of this playground. Through your donations, you are the beautiful hands and feet of Jesus, stepping into an otherwise cold, dark world with the message of hope for a new beginning. May the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ melt the heart of every inmate and family that is touched by this playground, by the power of His Holy Spirit. Please rejoice greatly for the integral role God has enabled you to play in this love story. Praise His Holy Name!