We had the good fortune of connecting with Reginald Washington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Reginald, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
As a young man, I was emotionally illiterate. I was not cognizant of how not knowing how to express my emotions in a healthy manner impacted my choices. When I was sentenced to life in prison, it forced me to deal with some harsh realities about myself. It was in the healing circles in prison where I learned more about myself and my emotions. I then made it my life’s mission to teach others the importance of emotional literacy. While involved in the prison system and serving a life sentence I got involved in a therapeutic community and started taking a look at my trauma, and also realized that I would never have an opportunity to be in my child’s life if I didn’t work on myself. It was in prison, Project A.W.A.R.E. was created. A.W.A.R.E stands for Attitude When Angry and Resolving Emotional issues non-violently. Project A.W.A.R.E. has contracts or is affiliated with San Diego County’s probation department; San Diego County Office of Education; the Carlsbad police department; the school districts for San Diego, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista; and he holds various certifications in gang intervention, restorative practices and conflict resolution. We work with youth and families to help develop social development, emotional literacy, and problem-solving through various workshops, group sessions and speaking engagements.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Project A.W.A.R.E. gets referrals from schools, probation and the community; we then assess the youth to see how we can be of service to them. Then, we get them involved in an eight-week program that focuses on emotional skills, problem-solving skills and social skills. 68% of the participants reported that they received skills to control their anger and resolve conflict; 62% reported that they are learning some positive ways of coping with their moods and feelings; 83% reported that they feel connected with their community; 62% reported that they are open to having a positive relationship with law enforcement. Project A.W.A.R.E. serves over 200 at risk youth annually. We like to consider ourselves as helping young people take charge of their lives.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is a beautiful city with a variety of things to do. From the beaches, to water front dinning, to public attractions, you name it I probably enjoy it. Before this pandemic, Before this pandemic, I enjoyed going to the movies and eating fish tacos from Rubio’s. After eating, a nice brisk walk on the beach watching the waves and sunset.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
While in prison I had a variety of service providers that helped me recognize the need for change. Since being released and starting Project A.W.A.R.E. . SAY San Diego, Carlsbad Police Department, San Diego County Office of Education and San Diego County Probation departments are a few agencies that have allowed me the opportunity to make a change in the lives of the youth in my community.