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Somerset RTU Inmates Keep Busy with Homemade Board Games

Tags: Somerset
June 07, 2021 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

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With more time confined to their units, inmate activity workers on SCI Somerset's Residential Treatment Unit got creative.

The inmates decided to create their own board games, many based on activities they miss while being incarcerated.

Some of the game boards are made of mat board, canvas and card board. The game pieces are made using old game board pieces, soap, Bristol board, and even rice to weight dice.

It began when the two Certified Peer Specialists made the initial games on the unit. They made the games made prior to the RTU being established, so instead of playing typical chess, checkers, cards and Scrabble, they were able to think outside the box and make fishing and racing games.

A board game designed by inmates at SCI Somerset SCI Somerset Board Game.JPG

Throughout the pandemic, they have come up with many more ideas.

They develop rules and then teach others on the unit how to play. Some of the games they created began after conversations they had with other inmates on the unit of pastimes they enjoyed prior to being incarcerated, such as watching racing and going fishing. The games on average take about 5-6 hours to make.

They have made the following games so far:

  • Basketball Pong
  • Drag Racing
  • Fishing
  • Football
  • Horse Racing
  • Hunting
  • Mario
  • Monster Trucks
  • Motor Cross Racing
  • Nascar
  • Oregon Trail
  • Pacific Rim
  • Putt-Putt
  • SkeeBall
  • Surfer vs Sharks
  • Transformer Memory
  • Tractor Pulling

While some might think that they are just games, they are actually quite beneficial and therapeutic to the inmates housed on the RTU. Teri Collins, Somerset therapeutic activities services specialist, said she can watch to see if they are engaging and initiating with others, able to follow directions and stay on task. She can also see if they are able to utilize the coping skills they are learning in groups, if they get frustrated with others or are able to work as a team.

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