The Walls to Bridges program has its roots in some of the pedagogical principles of the U.S. Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Inside-Out courses were started in Canada in 2011 in Ontario and British Columbia and in 2014 we changed our name from Inside-Out Canada to the Walls to Bridges Program.
The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program in the U.S. (www.insideoutcenter.org) provided the conceptual and pedagogical inspiration for our program.
Dr. Simone Davis brought the concept of Inside-Out to Canada in 2009, after having been involved with the U.S. program for a number of years. Collaborative dialogue with educators, learners, and advocates around the country helped sow the seeds for Walls to Bridges. Inside-Out courses were started in Canada in 2011 in Ontario and British Columbia. In 2014 we changed our name from Inside-Out Canada to Walls to Bridges, to reflect our own unique national program.
The national hub for the Walls to Bridges Program is located in the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. (Thanks and gratitude to the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation for funding this)! The first course at Wilfrid Laurier was offered in partnership with Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI) by Dr. Shoshana Pollack in 2011. This was a pivotal moment in the Walls to Bridges story, as students from this course (both incarcerated students and MSW students in the Faculty of Social Work) formed a ‘collective’ after the course was over.
Within one year of meeting regularly, the W2B GVI Collective established the National Facilitator Training, each summer hosting a five-day training for university, college and community educators wishing to learn our pedagogy and establish W2B programs in their own communities.