‘Man’ means more than muscles and machismo
Program aims to show boys value of being kind and just
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.
“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