‘Man’ means more than mus­cles and machismo

Pro­gram aims to show boys value of be­ing kind and just

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Gil­bert Ngabo Metro | Toronto

A group of Toronto men is work­ing to teach young boys how to be­come bet­ter adults.

Next Gen Men has been of­fer­ing af­ter-school ses­sions for boys at­tend­ing York Re­gion schools since last year. The group’s hop­ing to ex­pand to other ar­eas, fo­cus­ing on boys 12 to 14.

The goal is sim­ple. By em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of di­ver­sity, health, equal­ity, pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships, self­aware­ness and in­clu­sive­ness, or­ga­niz­ers want to see the next gen­er­a­tion of men have more of a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on their com­mu­ni­ties.

“Ev­ery school has tons of pro­gram­ming for girls, but there aren’t any for boys,” said Jer­mal Al­leyne, Next Gen Men’s co-founder and pro­gram di­rec­tor. “Young boys also have all sorts of things to dis­cuss in or­der to grow up bet­ter.”

The pro­gram starts with an un­der­stand­ing that there’s “more than one way to be a good man,” he said.

From the be­gin­ning, boys are asked to se­lect qual­i­ties they think fit a man.

Most of them choose at­tributes such as be­ing ag­gres­sive, tough, loud and phys­i­cal, said Al­leyne.

Jer­mal Al­leyne

“That’s gen­er­ally what they un­der­stand about man­hood. But it’s not just that any­more,” he said.

Once they’ve been through the pro­gram, the same ex­er­cise of­ten brings an­swers such as co-op­er­a­tion, lead­er­ship, be­ing emo­tional, car­ing and kind.

A big fo­cus is placed on gen­der equal­ity and the fight against gen­der-based vi­o­lence, Al­leyne said. The hope is that the boys will stand up for those who are most vul­ner­a­ble.

“We just want them to know that men are not bad, but they can be bet­ter,” Al­leyne said.

Some of the stu­dents learn­ing from Jer­mal Al­leyne, cen­tre, and the Next Gen Men ef­fort. Con­trib­uted

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