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Mule Creek ADA program promotes inclusion

Mule Creek prison incarcerated people do an ADA program for fitness.
A program for the incarcerated ADA population means people can work on their health regardless of age or fitness level.

Walking, Rolling ADA program helps those in Mule Creek

A dedicated coach at Mule Creek State Prison has designed an ADA program to help people stay active no matter their age or ability.

Prison coach being interviewed.
Andrew Scholl, Mule Creek coach, created an ADA program.

(Editor’s note: Watch the video at the bottom of this story.)

Life in prison can challenge anyone, but can be particularly hard for individuals whose bodies and minds are impacted by aging.

At Mule Creek, Facilities D and E were constructed in 2016 to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for incarcerated persons with disabilities.

At the same time, the average age of the incarcerated population at MCSP has steadily increased. The average age in Facility E is 55.5 years old and Facility D is 52.6 years old. Overall, the average age of an incarcerated man in any of California’s prisons is 42.2.

Mule Creek E-Yard Coach Andrew Scholl created Walking and Rolling as an ADA program to help the aging incarcerated population.

“We feel the ADA program we established is important for the population dynamics we have on this yard,” said Scholl, a 30-year CDCR employee. “We get individuals involved who normally are off to the side and let their disability dictate their life. As they progress through the program, they gain self-confidence and we can see they have a new outlook on life.”

Success encourages others

One participant seeing success is 59-year-old Randy Cole.

“My friend dragged me in,” Cole said. “I was slow, had a lot of health issues and was confined to my wheelchair when I started this program two years ago. Now with hard work, I will walk out of prison in eight months without my wheelchair.” 

Cole now works out four times per week, split between the ADA fitness classes and on his own. 

“I owe everything to George (Lucev). If I missed a class, he came looking for me, took me back and provided encouragement,” he said. “We are a community, we look out for each other.”

“Residents have equal access, ability to exercise, and build comradery,” said Dr. Tammie Hollis-Prime, Acting Principal. “Every Tuesday and Thursday, participants come to Coach Scholl’s awesome program. This is a fascinating and exciting program to have at Mule Creek.”   

George Lucev, Coach Scholl’s recreation orderly, helped build the program from the beginning.

“The participants are motivated by their own success stories, as well as seeing others succeed,” Lucev said.

History of the ‘Walking and Rolling’ program

The Mule Creek ADA program started slowly in 2016 with four individuals. Staff and program orderlies started going out into the population and actively recruited. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the ADA program has gained momentum, and the community continues to grow. Now, they average 30 to 40 participants. The group gathers for 90 minutes each Tuesday and Thursday morning.   

The “rolling” program provides physically restricted incarcerated persons with organized activities.

Coach Scholl and two orderlies assist with instruction, one-on-one coaching, recruiting and attendance. There are several approved ADA video-led classes of “sit-down” aerobics. 

Some of the other physical activities offered include resistant bands, yoga, foam rollers, balance balls, bikes, rowing machine, and games such as corn hole and ping pong. 

The “walking” program also tallies participants’ miles. The “gold club” is established for participants who complete 1,000 miles.

Eric Pedersen, ADA Associate Warden, said the success of the program was due to Scholl’s dedication.

“He has coordinated the procurement of all the supplies and encouraged the involvement of the population as well as his helpers,” Pedersen said. “There is no other program that rivals this one anywhere in the state so incarcerated people are motivated when they arrive at Mule Creek.”

By Todd Javernick, Information Officer
Office of Public and Employee Communications

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