Literal Change Is Helping Make a Difference in the Lives of Ontario’s Incarcerated Men

Two Toronto women using literacy to change lives

Founded by Martha Jodhan and Robyn Keystone, Literal Change is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Ontario’s incarcerated population. The team has currently implemented their program within two of Ontario’s maximum security detention centres.

“We run one-to-one remedial literacy classes. We’re trying to make literal changes through literacy,” explained Robyn.

Robyn and Martha have been working in the education industry for five years. Before opening Literal Change, the duo knew they wanted to apply their skills to make an impact in a unique way, but struggled to find the right momentum. After spending some time doing research, they came to the idea of Literal Change after noticing that literacy programs in Ontario jails were severely lacking.

Their passion seeps through in everything they do, whether it be filling their Instagram account with poetry and drawings done by their students, or taking time to educate the public on the importance of education programs in jails and the incredible impact they have on the lives of incarcerated individuals.

The overall goal of Literal Change is to “identify the gaps in literacy proficiency of the remand population and teach them the technical skills and strategies that will help them to be successful in a professional or academic setting.” The organization targets those who are functionally illiterate, those who wish to complete a GED or high school diploma, and those who experience English as a second language.

“Literacy is such a huge keystone and bridge between employment and getting out of poverty and educational goals,” said Martha.

Indie88 had the opportunity to sit down with one of Literal Change’s former students to discuss his experience with the program and how it has helped him to achieve his goals.

“I was pulled out of school to care for my younger brothers and sisters and to help out around the house because my dad wasn’t around because he was working and trying to support his family,” explained the student.

“[Literal Change] impacted me big time because it’s helped me improve my writing and reading skills. The exercises and the ways that you were learning, it was easy and it was fun.”

Also a big fan of The Tragically Hip, below is a reflection the student wrote about Gord Downie’s Secret Path.

To see more artwork made by Literal Change’s students, check out their blog where the team regularly posts their students’ artwork and poetry.

These Two Women are Teaching Literacy Skills to the Incarcerated

These women are teaching literacy skills to the incarcerated men of Ontario:

Posted by Indie88Toronto on Monday, June 19, 2017

Thanks to The Post Office Sound for letting us film this interview in their space.