Prisoners restore wheelchairs for those in need

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Inside this workshop in Angola Prison, things that have been broken and discarded are being fixed. With patience, hard work and a little polishing wheelchairs are slowly restored as a part of Wheels for the World.

However, it's the people doing the restoring that are undergoing the real transformation.

"The hands that caused you so much trouble, you use them now to do so much good, and bless someone that's been walking on their hands and knees," said inmate Orlando Griffin.

Wheels for the World began in 2004. Around 13 inmates volunteer to help rebuild and restore wheelchairs and crutches, which are then shipped around the world to help people without easy access to medical care. On Monday, 200 wheelchairs will be sent to the Dominican Republic.

"We show love. It's not about the quantity. It's about the quality of the chair, because when the chair leaves here and it is donated to the individual, we try to make it last as long as possible," said supervisor Lt. Dwyane Anthony.

"It's just a rewarding thing when they can see that their actions can impact somebody in a positive way. That rolls into everything else we're trying to do here to change the deviant behavior," said Assistant Warden of Programming Kathy Fontenot.

The supervisors say programs like this are very important to the prison, because it is part of the moral rehabilitation, showing how anything can be improved with enough work.

"A man can change, because basically you don't look at what the individual has done, what they're doing now is giving back to society," said Anthony.

Another prisoner rehab program is The Toy Shop. The Toy Shop is in its 15th year, and started with group of inmates who wanted to volunteer their time building toys and restoring bikes for kids in need.

All the toys and restored bikes are handed out through law enforcement groups. Around 6,000 toys and 400 bikes will be given out this year.

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