There is a Boy Crisis in our Community

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Open Community Mentoring is for Boys Without an In school Program Jpg

Our society is plagued by a culture that is producing disconnected young men. Many turn to gangs, drugs, alcohol, theft, self-harm and other destructive behaviors to fill those gaps and numb the pain of loneliness. Troubled teens become troubled adults who end up being at the root of so many societal ills. Many of those outcomes end in tragedy.

Local nonprofit Boys to Men Mentoring (B2M) has a 25-year history of empowering middle and high school boys ages 12-17 to chart their own path to healthy manhood. The journey begins with teams of B2M male mentors volunteering at schools on a weekly basis to sit in circles with these struggling teens. The mentors share their stories about their journey, their experiences, how they felt, the choices they made and the price they paid for some of their poor choices. The boys hear honesty, authenticity and vulnerability and are invited to do the same. The confidentiality of B2M circles allows the boys to feel safe discussing real-life topics such as divorce, drugs, alcoholism, gangs, abandonment and loneliness. Once their truths are revealed, mentors encourage the boys to make meaningful choices from an honest place. The mentor’s role is to provide support and accountability for the boys’ choices.

The next important step for the mentees is Adventure Mountain Weekend. During the weekend retreat, the boys are challenged and supported through a series of carefully facilitated activities designed to help boys cope with the ordeals they are and will face during adolescence. They learn about integrity; bond with their peers; and learn about mission and service. The weekend is a life-changing experience the boys never forget.

Week by week mentees are shedding their secrets, making better choices, all while receiving consistent, reliable and unconditional support. They start feeling better about themselves and when they feel better, they do better. The boys have a safe environment where they are honored for their courage and their feelings are validated.

The community-based mentoring approach has and continues to draw high praise from San Diego-area school principals, administrators and educators for its documented ability to improve academic performance, attendance, attitude, and reduce disciplinary issues.

“If we can cultivate happy and healthy individual students who are on a path to gainful employment, are connected to society, and care about their neighbors – then we will start to see a reduction in crime, homelessness and addiction,” said Dr. David Miyashiro, Cajon Valley Union School District Superintendent. “All those things are a byproduct of a broken system. Boys to Men in partnership with local school districts can solve that problem,” he added.

While B2M programs have been and continue to be immensely successful, the school waiting list grows every week. The demand for this kind of emotional support for our at-risk youth is embraced as an effective way of addressing destructive behavior and academic delinquency among teen males. Currently serving 40 middle and high schools across the region, the long-range goal is to be in every school in San Diego County.

The reward of investing in San Diego’s at-risk teens is truly an investment in our community. Your partnership with Boys to Men Mentoring can make a life-changing difference. If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor or wish to donate, please visit http://www.BoysToMen.org.

 

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Esteban Villanueva
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