Central State Chorus shares message of hope at Dayton Correctional Institution



Central State University’s Grammy-nominated chorus performed in front of a crowd of inmates at the Dayton Correctional Institution, celebrating Black history while also sharing a message of hope for a better future.

The 25 members of the chorus sang gospel songs Thursday to the incarcerated women at the prison run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Carlos Brown, director of choral activities at Central State University, said the experience was a benefit to the students who got the opportunity to share a positive message.

“There is hope,” he said. “Although your situations look dark and your situation may look very gloomy — for some of them they will never make it to the outside again — but for some that will make it out you are able to have a second chance and look at how your life can be different on the outside.”

He said the message also can benefit those who won’t get out by helping motivate them to change their perspective.

Westley Gaddis, the activities therapist administrator for the Dayton Correctional Institution, said programs like the chorus performance is important for rehabilitation. He said the prison offers activities year-round to help expand inmates’ knowledge and help them discover new interests.

“It’s about engaging them and giving them hope and knowing there is more,” Gaddis said.



The department’s mission is to reduce recidivism, he said, and the programming works to encourage the women to try new things and to stay out of trouble.

Gaddis said the experiences like seeing the chorus perform also can give the inmates new things to talk about with their family and friends, which improves morale.

The Historic Dayton Contemporary Dance Company on Tuesday will make its annual visit to the prison. Gaddis said community groups coming into the prison is important as it offers incarcerated individuals a connection to the outside.

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