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M.A.D.E.’s nutrition and fitness program empowers people returning home from incarceration

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Leon El-Alamin was formerly incarcerated himself. Now, he is the founder of the M.A.D.E. Institute, a nonprofit organization with the mission the help people returning home from incarceration. As El-Alamin worked with formerly incarcerated people for years, he noticed a pattern of those being released: They do not get adequate medical attention.

“When you’re incarcerated, (healthcare) is very poor. You’re limited to the type of resources of healthcare coverage you can get in there,” El-Alamin said. “And what we found is that, because of that, a lot of individuals’ health conditions worsened. Things such as hypertension, I had a couple folks who came home with cancer, and some things like that.”

M.A.D.E itself stands for Money, Attitude, Direction, and Education and it provides a comprehensive program to help formerly incarcerated people access resources, such as housing, skill development, and dealing with trauma.

M.A.D.E. is partnering with Michigan State University on a project that addresses the health issues of returning citizens. The project is called Harnessing Education and Lifestyle Change to Support Transitional Health for Returning Citizens. The program will also provide education to returning citizens about nutrition, healthy living, and fitness. In addition, eight individuals will become certified fitness instructors with nutritionist certifications, as well. It will benefit their own wellbeing, while providing a new career path.

“Training formerly incarcerated adults to serve as fitness trainers will provide these individuals with a skill that can then be leveraged for future employment and income opportunities. This is so important because this population often has difficulty finding work due to their criminal backgrounds.” - Rodlescia Sneed, assistant professor in the Division of Public Health in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

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