Utah Department of Corrections

 crochet.1web

It’s only yarn; oftentimes, simply pieced together to make a simple blanket. And that simple blanket has the power to change the outlook of not only those who receive it, but those who create it.

Blankets, crocheted by Utah State Prison inmates at the Timpanogos Women’s Facility, were recently donated to the West Jordan Victim Assistance Program.

Seven bags full of the creations were delivered in August to program headquarters at West Jordan City Hall. They will be given out to children who come into the office or when volunteers on the 24-hour crisis team encounter them.

“Every time a child comes in—and we have them often—they leave with something in their hands,” said Cecelia Budd, the program coordinator for West Jordan. She said the service, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in November, see about 20 youngsters a month.

The blankets are more than just a comfort to the children, however.

crochet.2webTo those participating in the knitting and crocheting group at Timpanogos, the blankets also provide a way to deal with challenging realities.

“It’s a stress reliever when you’ve had a rough day,” said one inmate during a blanket-making session. “It’s a distraction, mindfulness, grounding–something about having to count your stitches. You’re in the present, thinking about what you’re doing.”

The group, using yarn donated by the Salt Lake Knitting Guild, is part of the Excell program at Timpanogos. The program is designed to help women overcome substance abuse issues and resolve trauma—including physical and emotional abuse—that often underlie criminal behaviors.

Women who complete Excell are nearly 30 percent less likely to return to prison than inmates who do not, according to an analysis of the 11-month-long program.

Excell Director Deborah Chiquito said making blankets that end up in the arms of little ones gives the women a sense of helping others.

“It’s a great coping skill,” she said. “Knowing someone will be using it that doesn’t have anything.”

August 20, 2018, Public Information Office, Liam Truchard