A time for men

A teenage boys’ self-development program at Rosebery Middle School is set to be expanded to all male students at the school. The highly successful Young Men’s Time allows participants to discuss age-related issues and challenges, promotes an interchange of ideas, and builds self-esteem

Teacher Coordinator Felipe Espinoza said the weekly meetings address a range of topics, such as finding a partner, respecting women, hygiene and mateship.

“We hope to develop men who are leaders in our community, who feel proud of themselves and their mates, and who are going to work together to end violence against women,” he said. “We would also like to see an improvement in men’s mental health by encouraging boys to share problems rather than bottling them up.”

The sessions begin with the White Ribbon pledge to end violence against women, and end with 20 minutes of physical training.

Mr Espinoza said high intensity physical exercises are building bodily strength and confidence, and learning to be “psychologically strong as a group” is promoting peer support and “normalising the fact that men can talk about pressing issues”.

“It is noticeable that some of the boys are applying the same principles behind the physical training into their learning in class; the more focus they put on their own training, the better the results,” he said. “They also build values like resilience, honesty and perseverance. This group of young men is demonstrating an increased level of respect towards women, physically and verbally.

“Currently we are working on a plan to make Young Men’s Time a continuum from years 7 to 9, and later expand it to work with role models in senior school, and with boys in primary schools. The long term plan is to make the program self-sustainable and maintained by the students, providing them with the skills needed to become positive leaders and have ownership of it.

“In 2017, we are looking to become the first school in the Northern Territory to join The Fathering Project, and get male role models involved in the lives of their kids and the school community.”

ten students and a teacher