QUINCY Junior High School has embarked on a new initiative that educators see as another avenue to help at-risk adolescent boys improve everyday life skills, build relationships with adults and peers, and develop a greater sense of belonging.
Working in conjunction with other mentoring programs in place at the school, QJHS Principal Dan Sparrow said Men in the Making clubs are designed, in part, to allow boys to "talk about guy things inside the school" because moving from boyhood to manhood "is hard."
Specifically, the clubs, set up for different age groups, provide a vital support network for a wide array of personal development issues often missing in the lives of many students to help them grow into more confident and capable adults.
The concept is based on the best-selling book "Manual to Manhood," by Jonathan Catherman, a cultural strategist and education trainer who specializes in character and leadership development of youth.
Catherman told the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer last year that the book and the clubs, which both debuted in 2014, were inspired by a letter he had written to his two sons after he survived a car crash. He told the newspaper he wanted to share some of the basic facts about growing up with his sons in case anything were to happen to him.
"How to shave, change a flat tire or introduce yourself to your girlfriend's parents," Catherman told the Observer. "All guys want the same two things: to gain respect and avoid embarrassment. This program is designed to help with that."
In addition to talking about things that matter to guys, Sparrow said, participants are being shown how to be responsible, earn the trust and respect of others, communicate, and build positive leadership skills to apply at school and at home.
Statistics compiled by the One Million Men in the Making organization clearly bear out the importance of assisting at-risk youth.
Students who meet regularly with mentors are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions, 55 percent more likely to enroll in college than those without a mentor, 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school, 46 percent less likely to initiate drug use, 37 percent less likely to skip a class, and 27 percent less likely to initiate alcohol use.
QJHS administrators are encouraged by the initial level of participation in the Men in the Making clubs and hope to see the program -- in terms of students, mentors and impact-- grow to help meet a challenging need.