Sunday, September 23, 2012

Looking forward, looking back...

It's been a few months since our first Knights in Training conference project for 552 boys at the G.H. Dawe Community Center in Red Deer, AB, Canada. Some reflections from me are in order...
  • 712 conference shirts were worn in 24 different colors for our fifth grade delegates, teachers and volunteers... awesome!
  • We (as in the committee of wonderfully dedicated people who contributed their time and passion to planning this project) were anxious and excited at the same time as we made final preparations to ensure the day was fun, informative and memorable for all. I'd be remiss if I didn't give a nod here to those who stepped up to help us make sure the day was all of these things... our presenters. Not one of them asked for a dime in exchange for sharing their wisdom and experience beyond travel expenses. As the complete roster was finalized we realized their contribution to the project was nothing short of remarkable and most honorable.
  • To round out our conference agenda, we had tremendous support from Randy Pentlichuk and PENT Continental, our food service vendor providing a great deal on lunch and snacks. We also offered a multimedia presentation via Much Music's Motivational Media, an exciting culturally significant opening ceremony via the Red Deer Aboriginal Youth Dance Troupe and an inspirational closing message by our friend, Justin Flunder.
  •  The day came and went so fast. I heard so many comments form participants, presenters and volunteers making statements like, "I had no idea how big this thing was going to be," and "this is something that should be happening within every community."
  • Our major and minor sponsors came through huge for us. Many, many thanks to the Red Deer Kinsmen, the Alberta Government, Family Services of Central Alberta and both Red Deer Public and Catholic School Districts.
  • Every single one of the presenters indicated they would like to return for our KIT Conference 2013... wow.
  • The G.H. Dawe Community Center proved to be a perfect venue for such an event. The staff at the Center were awesome all day long... the conference went off without a hitch largely as a result of their superior organization and efficiency.
  • Planning and showcasing such an event is very hard work, but the reward is worth the effort. Many leaders stepped up in our open system planning context to ensure that the effort was successful.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Alberta Advantage!

We are ecstatic to announce that Grow Boys!  received additional funding support from the Alberta Sport, Recreation Parks & Wildlife Foundation (ASRPWF) today. We are all very fortunate to live in a province that supports initiatives like Grow Boys! through government grant programs. This grant enables us to design and create the type of supportive environment described in our mission and vision statements...
Mission: Provide opportunities for local boys to discover, improve and share their skills in a variety of contexts.
Vision: A society where the unique social, emotional, physical and psychological needs of boys are supported without bias or stereotype.
The funding support we have received from ASRPWF today allows us to provide a full-scale conference for fifth grade boys in Red Deer this May 9th, and it frees up other resources so we can continue working on our broader goal to engage boys in their own happy, healthy growth and development from birth to adulthood and beyond. We are currently conducting research in support of this goal, and are always looking for new opportunities and like-minded partners to help pursue them.

On behalf of every fifth grade boy in Red Deer, the Grow Boys! organizing committee is extremely grateful and thankful for the funding support we received from ASRPWF today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grow Boys! at the Knowledge Institute...

Last Friday I had a wonderful opportunity to share the Grow Boys!  concept with my colleagues from Red Deer Public Schools at our annual Knowledge Institute symposium. The Knowledge Institute is a effort to create a culture that supports original inquiry and applied research among professional educators. “Our goal is to expand knowledge and improve practice within our profession,” says Jay Hetherington, district psychologist and project coordinator. “We recognize that our classrooms are data-rich environments that can support applied research. This initiative encourages, supports and promotes research projects undertaken by our teachers.”

Having the good fortune to be chosen as a presenter at this year's Knowledge Institute turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to showcase what Grow Boys!  is all about, and more importantly, to share our concept with teachers who teach boys in grades other than grade five. Our rationale has always been to provide a local network of people supporting the happy, healthy growth and development of boys within our community from birth to adulthood. We had to start somewhere, and chose grade five as our jump-off point mainly due to the fact that an annual conference for fifth grade girls has taken place for about ten years already in Red Deer. The "Go Girl" conference addresses the issue of physical literacy for girls and intends to highlight the importance of staying active, eating healthy and making healthy choices. We have worked closely with, and learned a great deal form this well-organized effort to support girls.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Welcome Kinsmen!

Grow Boys!  Red Deer is extremely happy to announce that we've struck a partnership with the local Kinsmen Club of Red Deer. This is a major development for Grow Boys! and we are very excited about the opportunities it will create.

Kin Canada has been around since 1920 and  is the nation's largest all-Canadian service club organization. Over 7,000 members in Kinsmen, Kinette and Kin clubs across Canada work to better their communities, enhance the well-being of Canadians and improve the environment. The Kinsmen mandate is a perfect fit for Grow Boys!  We too are totally committed to enhancing the well-being of Canadians, and specifically, Canadian boys whom we aim to support as they grow to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted men themselves... perhaps men, who like the Kinsmen, will want to give back to their communities, families and the young men in their care.

Stay tuned for developing news about our exciting new partnership. Grow Boys!  Red Deer is very proud to have made this connection with the Kinsmen, and we are looking forward with anticipation and excitement  about future collaborative projects!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some folks around the world are watching

flickr photo image Kieth Williamson
This is a guest post by Michael Josefowicz, retired printer, education advocate, Twitter aficionado and idea generator extraordinaire...

I would like to thank Sean for allowing me to post at Grow Boys. I thought it might be useful to share the view from Brooklyn on what I see as the important work you are doing in Alberta.

The "problem" of boys finding ways to be men in this new emerging world is happening all over the world. Lots of reasons having to do with globalization, demographic changes and new communication technology. But whatever the reasons it's a problem across the globe.

In the States it usually presents as "high school dropouts" and much more seriously as young men of color winding up in the Juvenile Justice System. You probably know that the overwhelming majority of people in American prisions are men of color. From everything I think I know it goes to the problem of finding a meaning in life, ways to make a difference and defining for each of us what it means to be a Man.

In Atlanta, ( @ DrDia ) has done some breakthrough work using HipHop and a program she calls HYPE to work with the same kids who have the same problems. Hopefully she will have some time to help us all get a clearer view of her program.

It is helpful to know  that I've become friends via Twitter with other amazing people who are all trying to help figure it out.

I also wanted to add some words that probably will sound like jargon to many, but bear with me. Over the last year or so I've been tweeting with Sean and a couple of other wonderful people defining something that has evolved into nemetics. Maybe seeing what your are up to with Grow Boys! through that metaphor will help.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

May 9, 2012... What a day it will be!

This is a guest post by Melissa McLean, KIT 2012 Program Committee representative and teacher... 

The upcoming Knights in Training Conference  for all grade 5 boys in Red Deer Public and Catholic Schools will provide an opportunity for them to connect and reflect about several important and lifelong learning areas: Responsibility, Respect, Understanding and Relationships, and at the root of each of these; HOPE.

During my time teaching boys in Grades 3, 4 and 5, I have learned a lot about who boys are, not just as students, but also as “future men”. These boys are going to one day be the men fixing my car at the garage, working as an engineer at Nova, balancing my finances at the bank, driving in NASCAR, playing in a symphony, selling their art, building houses, playing in an NHL game… (I have big dreams for my students!!!!) Some of the biggest memories that stick out in my teaching career were sparked during an activity in class, a school sports game, a field trip, recess etc. Were any of these moments created during one of my amazing lessons on Creative Writing, Triple digit by double digit multiplication or Canada’s regions?… no-no they weren’t! The memories were sparked because the students and I had created relationships of mutual respect; an understanding that I wanted them to do their best, that each student had responsibility for their own actions and words, and that as their teacher, I had big hopes for their near and distant futures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not just a conference...

Grow Boys! will be hosting our first conference for fifth grade boys in Red Deer, AB, Canada this May, but Grow Boys! is more than just a conference.

The idea to initiate an effort to support the happy, healthy growth and development of boys was conceived a little over a year ago. All along Grow Boys! has been framed as the creation of a broad support network that includes efforts like hosting our conference. With emphasis on the word network, it has always been about identifying the particular developmental needs of boys, and then accessing local resources to provide services to boys within our community. Our network has grown significantly since then, and we continue to connect with new supporters every week. What we know through our experiences working with boys as teachers, health care providers, counselors, coaches, mentors etc. is that boys need our support in a world that's throwing a lot at them lately.