It's clear that boys and young men are often struggling with the challenges of embodying "masculinity”. The current story of boys is well documented. Too often it is one of declining school performance, awkwardness in relationships, low social responsibility, high risk for violence and drug use, and an absence of a genuine thriving and engagement with life. Much attention has been given to father absence, lack of formal rites of passage, lack of positive male role models, the replacing of parents by peer culture, and a culture that encourages a prolonged adolescence. This response to boy's challenges uses engaging experiential programming that builds skills and awareness that better enable boys in their journey of constructing a healthy and able male self. This programming supports the creation of safe school environments and boys' abilities to increase their academic performance and social contributions in the school community and beyond.
"If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of the culture, just to feel the warmth." ~ Michael Meade
For virtually all boys, this is a first-time experience of facilitated pausing to consciously explore the gender notions that are forcefully influencing their day-to-day lives. Blurred and erased are existing lines of division among boys based on size, strength, interests, ability, popularity, orientation and race. Replacing such divisions are powerful feelings of connectedness via their shared realizations and experiences as males. This is an experience known to most boys only sporadically inside of their best friendships, and is functionally not known in large groups of boys and young men.
Boys learn concrete skills in conflict transformation, self-care, and emotional skill-building in relationships with others – from showing interest to handling break-ups. They gain insight into healthy power dynamics, media influence, female points of view, and the destructive role homophobia plays in isolating males. Here the teaching style is highly interactive via numerous activities, including physical movement, sharing stories, writing, and ritual. Boys are valued and respected for being male, and also held accountable for how they carry themselves as males. Their diversity is honored and every effort is made to offer both private and public forms of full participation. This program includes numerous hallmarks of rites of passage work, which recognize and support boys' movement towards a healthy and fulfilling adult manhood.
- Creates a safe community of cooperation, trust, and tons of fun!
- Respects young masculinity where it is by being active and experiential, not "chalk and talk".
- Illuminates new ideas and honors diverse possibilities in being male.
- Empowers by teaching concrete life skills, practices, and awareness.
- Challenges with emotional depth, direct honesty, and required accountability.
- Mentors with engaging role modeling, clear boundaries, and powerful affirmation.
- Defines healthy masculinity as socially responsible, non-violent, dynamic, creative, expressive, and engaged.
Recommended group size: Approximately 30 boys.
Program Length: Core program is 1 school day, can be delivered in one day, or two half days. Core program creates foundation for follow-up and ideally, the creation of an on-going boys program.
Needs: A room large enough for all particpants to sit in a circle of chairs. Flipchart or whiteboard and markers. Computer projector and speakers.
Creating on-going boys programming: Interested male staff from the school are strongly encouraged to attend as participants. Ideally, interested school staff will train with David to create on-going, school-based boys programming.