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Changing Lives Through Literature in Maximum Security -

The child of an alcoholic and the product of a broken home, Mike Cooley was abused physically and verbally and bounced from school to school and city to city during his youth. He also went from a homeless and drug addicted teenager and completely lost young adult to CEO of a million dollar company. Now a Coventry, R.I., resident and author of Rock Bottom: From the Streets to Success, Mike will share his inspirational story with inmate students in Dr. Mari Dias’s Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) class on Thursday, April 14th, beginning about 9:30 a.m.

An Associate Professor of Social Sciences at Johnson & Wales University, Mari Dias has been the volunteer facilitator for CLTL at the RIDOC’s men’s Maximum Security Facility for the last six years. Dr. Dias weaves major tenants of both psychology and sociology into the classroom discussions. The twelve-week course utilizes the text Changing Lives Through Literature edited by Robert Waxler and Jean Trounstine, which includes a compilation of short stories that touch upon the themes of family, violence, and addiction.

Based on the idea that literature has the power to transform, CLTL allows students to make a connection with the characters or ideas in a text and to rethink their own behavior. According to Dr. Dias, “This program can be a conduit to self-directed change.”

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