Thursday, November 17, 2011

What would your inner 5th grader want to do?

flickr CC image via Sean MacEntee

So we're deep into the brainstorming process.

Our program committee at is convening next week to tap collective intelligence regarding what a few hundred fifth grade boys would like to do at a one-day conference under the themes of respect, understanding, relationships and responsibility.

We're looking for engaging (not boring), thought-provoking (not preachy) and interactive (not "sit and get") activities that will create memories for the boys for years to come... the kind that will resonate ten years from now when they will be the ones volunteering to make sure the Grow Boys! wrap-a-round support effort continues.

We want to hear your ideas.

Share with us...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy and healthy boys...

flickr CC image via lorenkerns

Grow Boys! is an effort to engage boys. "But boys are easy to engage," you say. Many of us might say the real challenge is getting them to disengage as they run about wildly without focus or direction. Whether boys are running about wildly or doing otherwise, however, the point is they need to be engaged if we're to help them grow into happy, healthy young men. They need to feel that they are actively involved in determining their own paths of learning, growing, living.

Last June the Grow Boys! team collaborated with Red Deer College on a literature review addressing effective programs and strategies to help boys navigate learning, living and growing in contemporary society. We also held a knowledge cafe to tap local insights and establish a needs-assessment for boys in the greater Red Deer area. A knowledge cafĂ© (KC) is a workshop where a group of people gather to openly and creatively discuss a topic of mutual interest in an effort to bring to surface their collective knowledge, to share ideas and insights, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject and the issues being discussed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nurturing Respect, Understanding, Relationships and Responsibility for our boys...

Our Hope:
Grow Boy is an opportunity for pre-teen boys in Red Deer to explore the deeper meanings behind respect, understanding, relationships and responsibility. Boys are growing up challenged by a world that throws a lot at them these days: social/emotional issues; family issues; body image issues; technology issues; learning issues… so many issues, so many challenges.

We believe hope is an action word. If we hope to help the young men in our care become active, responsible and caring citizens as they grow and develop, we have to take action to nurture this hope; otherwise we’re just wishfully thinking.

Our Framing:
We frame the challenges our boys are confronted with as opportunities; opportunities to get closer to becoming the good men we believe they will be in the future. Our Grow Boy Conference is grounded in the concept of hope as defined by action toward purpose… a concentric model of human development. Surrounding the hope we have for the young boys in our care are four elements: Respect; Understanding; Relationships and Responsibility. By refining our focus to four main themes around the concept of hope, we are able to target more specific issues in a direct and clear, but non-linear manner. We aim to address a variety of issues boys are facing today under these four general headings:

·        Respect- Respect is a curious element… we know it when we see it, but it’s a hard thing to explain. On our Hope Circle, respect is the phase of dependence. It’s up to us to provide context for young boys regarding what it is we want them to learn, and how we want them to grow. In the context of our conference we’re framing respect as purpose. Before we can develop skills and perspectives, we need purpose. We have to know why we are doing something before we can learn how. The domain of respect is where we establish purpose; the place where we answer the question, “why?”

·        Understanding- Understanding is the domain where we begin to explore the concept of independence. Once we have purpose, we can move away from the sheltered phase of dependence to explore the world more confidently and purposefully. Stable and confident learners feel safe breaking away from the dependent phase if we’ve done a good job supporting them with purpose; the implicit sense that they belong to something much larger than themselves, something good… a secure base.

·        Relationships- This is the domain of interdependence. In the Relationships domain, learners begin to understand the enabling power of belonging to a network- a cohort of significant others who support them and help strengthen their secure base. Learning how to communicate meaningfully and honestly in the Relationships phase teaches our boys how to seek help when they need it and not take on the weight of the world alone.

·        Responsibility- The domain of Responsibility is the place learners arrive at where they feel compelled to share their knowledge, skills and perspectives with others. They are now elders; those who know. As those who have already traveled the path they feel responsible to nurture those who have yet to experience the journey. As those “who know,” they become part of the secure base for others who are struggling to understand their place of hope.