How many people does it take to spark the imagination? To have a meaningful impact on the lives of others? One! And in the case of Michael D. McCarty, it’s someone who knows the joy of reading, understands the power of language, and believes in the art of storytelling to positively shape lives.
Inspired by his mother, Michael developed storytelling skills and an abiding love for reading at a young age. A multicultural storyteller, he’s been leading workshops professionally in the US and abroad since the early 1990s. In 2014, a fellow artist and friend working in California prisons through an Arts in Corrections program invited him to participate. Michael accepted and now teaches as part of a broader curriculum designed to give inmates the opportunity to develop self-awareness and express themselves therapeutically through a combination of visual, literary, and performing arts.
Michael’s workshop focuses on helping participants find, create, and tell their stories. One lesson involves giving our ThoughtFulls pop-open cards to inmates and inviting them to share an experience that relates to the quote on the inside of the card. The assignment is intended to give rise to story ideas that could be used to shape personal narratives the inmates are working on.
Once Michael started using ThoughtFulls as story prompts, momentum grew and something wonderful happened that both delighted and surprised him: inmates started swapping the ThoughtFulls cards with each other, copying down quotes they liked, or hanging them in their lockers and cells. Some felt moved to send ThoughtFulls to their children, wives, and other family members. What initially started as a workshop exercise became a heartfelt way for inmates to connect with each other and with loved ones too.
Michael, inspired by his students, now gives each workshop participant two additional cards to do with as they wish! But he doesn’t stop there:
"I also share the cards with the corrections officers, prison staff, hotel staff, and fellow artists. I often keep some in my car and in my pocket and give them to whoever methinks could use one. They are a big hit."
Thank you, Michael, for inspiring us with your story and for sharing your talents with the world!
And we invite you to make a difference in the lives of those around you with our ThoughtFulls today!