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It’s fun to stay at the YMCA

July 16th, 2005

Dr Petra


“Young man, there’s no need to feel down
I said young man pick yourself off the ground…”

Come on everybody, join in!

Okay, on a serious note, the YMCA in Des Moines are running a weekly summer school called “Active Relationships for Young Adults” where sixteen boys aged 12-18 are learning money management, careers, and how to have positive relationships.

The Des Moines Register describes how the course includes parenting advice, problem-solving skills, understanding emotions, and how to handle disagreements.

Programme director Chaplain David Harper is reported saying: “This program is designed to begin to instil in them what’s coming up in their lives… to think about things beforehand.”

If successful, this programme will be repeated in future years. I hope it is and I hope other organisations or educational groups can also implement similar programmes.

Research on teenage boys suggests that frequently they are excluded from life-skills classes. Whilst girls may get some education around starting periods, preventing pregnancy and puberty, boys may get no information at all. Lads who are in hard-to-reach groups, or have been excluded from education are even more likely to miss out.

Studies of teenagers, particularly around sex and relationships issues, shows teachers and parents may believe girls need instruction whilst assume it all ‘comes naturally’ to boys. It doesn’t. Informal education of lads by older siblings or friends may inadvertently encourage negative male behaviour, or increase male worries.

Which is why boys struggle to understand how their bodies work (and get upset when they feel they don’t measure up), find it hard to express their emotions or communicate their needs, and often fail to empathise with others. The pressure of masculinity may lead boys to take physical risks, commit crime, or coerce sexual partners.

Teaching boys to understand their role in life, to appreciate other people’s views, and to learn tasks such as money management, negotiating and communication skills can lead to them feeling more confident and prepare them more effectively for adult life.

I think we should applaud efforts made to provide life skills to lads at an early an age possible.

Hopefully programmes like the YMCA initiative will lead to more confident, responsible and respectful generations of men who’re less worried about their bodies and happier in their lives.

Now back to the song….

Y-M-C-A, Y-M-C-A!!

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