Programme guides boys into manhood

Boys to Men programme participants and mentors pose for the camera. Forty students were inaugurated into the programme on Wednesday at the John Gray High School gym. - Photo: Scott Swing

Forty boys gathered at the John Gray High School gym on Wednesday morning and donned ties that denoted their inauguration into the Boys To Men programme.

The mentoring programme is a boys club of sorts, which teaches Year 11 students life lessons beyond what’s learned in the classroom.

Counsellor Christopher Murray started the programme 10 years ago to help guide the boys, provide them with positive opportunities, assist them with leadership skills and help them become good role models for each other and in the community.

The transition from childhood into young adulthood is not always easy.

For Demario Deshaun McBean, a Year 11 student at John Gray High School, joining the Boys to Men Club made all the difference.

“I like the programme because it brings me closer to my friends, and I really love my friends,” said McBean. “I don’t have a father figure in my life, I joined the programme for that simple reason. I also want to participate in as much stuff as I can in school.”

“I can’t fail in life. It’s not an option in life for me,” he added.

Murray said, “The boys are coming to me asking to be a part of Boys to Men … the success from other boys in the past has caused that to happen,” Murray said.

Apart from that, he said, boys were bringing along their friends and asking if they could join the programme also.
“We could easily have 100 boys in the programme, but we just don’t have the resources,” he said.
All the boys had positive things to say about the programme.

Student Nathan Garricks said the Boys to Men initiative “helps you to achieve your goals”.

“It also helps you to be a better man in the future. We were once kids, now we can be leaders in the community to help and make sure stuff is done right,” added Garricks, who one day hopes to work in the construction industry.

Classmate Jevon Facey said he joined the programme when he started Year 11.

“It’s about us boys growing into men and achieving our goals and being leaders around the school. I like it because Mr. Murray is helping us to achieve that goal,” he said.

“The Boys to Men programme is so special, it brings everybody together. It really helps us in life with all sorts of other stuff,” said student Eric Frederick.

Kevaughn Hutchinson said the programme brought the boys closer together and helped them to bond and to learn new things about life.

Deshane Vousden said he joined Boys to Men to help him succeed in life.

He said he also joined because he gets to interact with other people and learn from those who have experiences in various fields of work.

“It teaches you how to be a better person, [a] better man, how to be a leader to set roles for other people to follow, so you can stand out from everybody else. That’s why I joined Boys to Men,” Vousden said.

“It’s an enhancing sort of programme in which we seek to boost the boys’ self-esteem, to provide a life with options … life has so much more to offer once they can maintain that positive outlook and know that their character matters,” Murray said.

There are rules; for example, skipping classes, lack of class participation, rudeness, and so forth, could result in the loss of their Boys to Men necktie.

The boys meet four times a month. Each week, they discuss a different theme, such as learning self-confidence and teamwork, and how to shake hands and make eye contact, open doors for others and address their elders.

Murray said he is greatly appreciative to have several professionals from the working community come in to speak and assist the boys.

He was also excited about new programmes on the horizon, such as having The Ritz-Carlton provide a social etiquette training for the boys, which will be followed by fine dining night with their mothers.

Murray said the Family Resource Centre is giving the group lessons in team building and how to work with others.

Attending the early morning initiative at the school on Wednesday, George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan said he thinks its a positive programme particular with young men who face many of the challenges in the community today.

He said it offers up key characteristics that young men need to become good citizens once they have left school.

He also thinks the initiative should be one that is embraced across the whole island.