Anthony DeJesus has never left the Bronx.
Raised in a foster-care system, he fell into a culture of drug trade and gang violence at a young age, landing in juvenile detention centers. Regularly in trouble with the law, Dejesus ended up in jail and was also homeless for a short period of time.
DeJesus' story isn't unique; there are more people imprisoned in the U.S. than in all other industrial countries combined, and 75 percent of those incarcerated will be rearrested within five years of their release. But a new program called Rewilding, founded by rock climber and social activist Jesse Spiegel, hopes to change those statistics by providing formerly incarcerated young men from New York with the opportunity to travel west on adventures that seek to transform their way of living.
To raise awareness for the Rewilding Alternative Adventure Retreat program, producer Doug Metzger (who won an Outstanding Directorial Achievement Award for the Kevin Costner film "Dances with Wolves") is filming a documentary series, also called "Rewilding," which follows DeJesus as he joins two rock climbers on an eight-week van journey across the Western U.S., rock climbing, farming, backpacking, practicing yoga, and connecting with people from all walks of life in the hopes of giving DeJesus the leadership and sustainability skills he needs to avoid another stint in jail and to transform his life for the better.
"It's about returning to one's natural state of existence," says Spiegel. "There is the desire and potential to grow when the conditions are right. Our goal is to…help fan that flame.”
"Rewilding" is still being filmed and is set to debut this summer.
Edit 05/17/15: An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated that DeJesus had served time in prison and had been incarcerated or homeless for most of his life. The post has been edited to correct this.
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