As a counselor in Laurinburg, North Carolina, Noran Sanford provided therapy to young people whose backgrounds weren’t too far removed from his own. These boys came from broken homes, struggled with poverty and addiction and lost family members to violence. But as he stood over yet another grave of a talented young man he had tried to help, Sanford knew he hadn’t done enough.
He pledged to work harder to make a lasting impact and in 2011 he founded Growing Change, an organization that allows boys who have been kicked out of schools and homes and convicted of crimes to start on a new path. Working as a team, these young men reclaimed an abandoned prison in Wagram, North Carolina and turned it into a community farm. In so doing, they also took back a sense of purpose and pride, and made connections within communities that had all but given up on these boys’ futures.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Noran Sanford about how his own turbulent childhood in Laurinburg led to his youth-led approach to change and how he would like to see hundreds of prisons across the country “flipped” to become spaces for second chances.