Think 2wice International is a non-profit organization that provides culturally relevant initiatives and programming to individuals who are incarcerated and reintegrating back into the community. To-date, we have provided supports in 8 Federal Institutions as well as various communities who are impacted by incarceration, gun or gang violence.
Through trauma informed, non-traditional initiatives, we aim to reduce gun violence while assisting individuals to think twice and challenge their mindsets.
Founded in 2006 in Toronto, Canada, Think 2wice aims is to promote:
Hope and motivation
Coping strategies for unresolved trauma and grief
Thinking 2wice before acting in emotions
Building mentors with relatable lived experience
Giving voice for the voiceless – platform to share stories
Think 2wice, headquartered in Northwest Toronto, works to bring awareness and support to assist in providing equality and dignity for racialized individuals within the penal and criminal justice system.
Think 2wice supported a motion and advocated for Toronto Public Health to recognize Community Violence as a social determinant of health.
In 2019 Think 2wice presented to the Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights on the conditions and inequalities faced by federally incarcerated Black inmates.
In early 2021 Think 2wice partnered with the Department of Justice Canada (JUS) to conduct a series of interviews with Black individuals who were once involved in the youth justice system. This initiative was a part of the federal government’s broader efforts under Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, 2019-2022 CARS, the International Decade for People of African Descent and the Anti-Racism Secretariat (ARSEC). These consultations compiled a better understanding of the challenges and experiences of Black inmates. with recommendations on policy changes.
During the pandemic Think 2wice sought to address the impact of COVID-19 on incarcerated individuals by providing awareness, supports and advocacy due to the effects of excessive lockdowns and lack of adequate preventions in some correctional facilities.
From 2002-2012, federally incarcerated Black inmates increased by 75%. 40% are under the age of 30. Black and indigenous inmates are the fastest growing groups in federal corrections at a rate of 3x. While arrests and convictions make the public feel safe, the reality is that issues do not disappear with individuals being in jail or prison without adequate culturally relevant rehabilitation and intervention programming and supports. With incarceration rates rising, gun-related crime has also gone up 59% from 2017-2018 (TPS). In other words, simply incarcerating young people is not decreasing gun and gang violence in the community.
"In our community the graveyards are expanding and prison is a part of life as we know it. "
Young people today are on the battlefield and the pressure is on the young people of this generation. Think 2wice recognizes that they are fighting a battle that is misunderstood by many.
History and Story
Think 2wice has worked with over ten thousand young people from at risk neighbourhoods, dentention centres and deferal institutions through:
Our mission is to support individuals through the healing process and empower them to turn their pain into purpose while building positive leaders within the community. We envision the empowerment of racialized people by eliminating the impact of inequality and social injustice.
Gun Violence Prevention
Film & Creativity
2006 - Foundation
Founded in 2006 by Zya Brown, Think 2wice's birth was a result of the Toronto 2005 'Summer of the Gun'. In an attempt to combat the rising gun violence that was plaguing high risk communities, Think 2wice was three fold:
The Think Zwice Correspondence Program gave individuals who may have had no support a form of hope. It started with three young people that think 2wice reached out to but by the second year the number of youth and young adults enrolled in the program was in the nineties.
The Think 2wice Victim Support Program focused on offering supports to victims of gun violence while in Sunny Brook Hospital.
The Think 2wice Weekly Drop In Group fostered a safe place for young people residing in a gun/gang involved neighbourhood to share their experiences and hardships through the week.
This group also discussed safety , spiritual and faithbased practices.
2008 - Drop-in Group
In 2008, the Identified Bullies and At Risk of Crime and Gang Involvement Drop In Group was birthed. This project consisted of children and younger youth between the ages of 7-12.
2009 - Youth Leaders
In 2009 Think 2wice began the Identified Youth Leaders Group which assisted and supported the raising of positive leaders within the community. Think 2wice brought together community leaders, former inmates, former gang leaders and youth with lived experience. Think 2wice also began Motivational Speaking in the community.
2010 - motivational speaking
In 2010 Think 2wice began Motivational Speaking in J-Unit, Millhaven Federal Institution a maximum security prison. Think Zwice chose to provide supports to inmates who were incarcerated in this 22 hour lock down prison which housed some of the hardest to serve inmates.
Think 2wice also began an inmate spiritual group .
2012 - Prison Theatre
In 2012 Think 2wice added a skit/theatre component and follow up workshops to their speaking engagements. They began performing during the Black History Events in multiple federal prisons in Ontario. Initiative incorporated music, speaking, and acting. The first production was called "HOPE", performed in J- Unit, Millhaven Institution.
During this year Think 2wice started a project called 'Hear My Cry* which operated out of the Albion Library. This program addressed symptoms of PTSD within the community of Rexdale and assisted in the training and raising up of male youth leaders who desired to become positive male role models in the Rexdale community.
2013 - Expansion
In 2013 Think 2wice expanded and performed the production "REPENTANCE" in Millahaven and Collins Bay Institution.
2014 - Theatre Special
In 2014 Think Zwice performed the production "THE DITCH THEY DUG FOR ME" in Collins Bay and Millhaven Institution.
2015 - Producton In Demand
In 2015 Think 2wice performed the production 3 KINGS"- "Not Everything That Glitters is Gold"- Due to popular demand Think 2wice began offering this production as a prevention initiative in the community as well.
2016 - Black History Month Productions
In 2016 Think Zwice developed a mentorship program that supported incarcerated individuals in becoming mentors and violence interruptors. Part of this program supported individuals in sharing their stories with the hopes of deterring youth in their communities from walking in their paths.
Think 2wice performed the theatre production "TRUTH". To date the Think Zwice Prison Theatre Initiative is honoured to perform performances for the Black History Event in the following Federal Institutions: Beaver Creek Minimum & Medium sites, Collins Bay Minimum Medium & Maximum sites, Joyceville Minimum & Medium sites, Millhaven J-Unit and Warkwarth.
2017 - Kings To Kingz interrupter project
In 2017 Think 2wice directed a powerful initiative and production for the Black History event in 3 prisons. This event included a pilot project called the Kings to Kingz project that brought 15 at-risk youth from the community to be apart of the audience for a play performed by inmates and the Think community 2wice group. Inmate leaders shared their stories and mistakes with the youth from community.
2018 - Prison Film Project
Due to the success of the Interrupter, Kings to Kingz project and as a means to reach children and youth in the broader community who were not able to come into the institution, Think 2wice created a film that documented the stories and mistakes of 8 incarcerated individuals. This project would become a prevention tool for at-risk youth and education tool for service providers.
Think 2wice also began the 'I AM' project, a confidence building initiatives for teen females that focused on teaching self defence and healthy relationships.
2018/2019 - DYING TO LIVE PRODUCTION
In 2018 Think 2wice developed an initiative called Community Connections. This initiative brought Black focused organizations into Beavercreek Institution with the purpose of connecting Black inmates with Black focused reintegration supports and organizations.
During this year Think 2wice received funding to develop a gun violence prevention/intervention initiative that touched on grief, loss and trauma. As part of this initiative, Think 2wice developed a theatrical play stemming from a Think 2wice prison skit called "3 Kings" to be used as an engagement tactic. The skit was expanded into a full theatre play. This powerful play, based of true stories, shows the journey of a grieving brother who uses retaliation as a coping mechanism while facing PTSD.
2019/2020 - Dying to live production
In 2020, the Dying to Live production expanded from 15 to 35 cast members. Productions were presented in a prison and multiple Theatre spaces throughout the GTA. This theatre experience gave youth from gun/gang involved neighbourhoods a theatre experience while using the platform as a prevention tool that gave voice the stories of youth experiencing grief and loss .
Each production included an open discussion and follow up workshops which addressed gun violence, trauma, grief and loss.
2020 - STATE OF CORRECTIONS
This virtual platform was developed in April 2020 in response to the lack of adequate COVID-19 preventions in corrections. This platform gives a voice to the voiceless while bringing awareness of the unjust conditions and systemic racism in corrections.
This space gives a voice to inmates, former inmates and families. Guests have included inmates, former inmates, advocates, defence, human rights and institutional, lawyers, correctional staff, guards and family members.
This series also assists individuals to navigate the system.
2021 - ToWards Peace Pilot Project
Think 2wice in Partnership with The City of Toronto, Y.A.A.A.C.E, Black Creek Health Centre and Rexdale Health Clinic is developing a violence interrupter project in North West Toronto.