Boys to Men Canada’s school mentoring program is a community based mentoring model serving high school boys age 13-17 identified by school administration to be at-risk of educational failure, dropping out of school, juvenile delinquency or gang-related offenses.
Program elements include weekly in-school meetings of mentors and boys, a 48-hour Boy’s Adventure Weekend, a 24-hour experiential mentor training, and ongoing training and support for carefully selected and screened mentors.
How it works.
Every week Boys to Men mentors show up to offer boys:
- A community of mentors and role models who listen, encourage and believe in them.
- A community of men who model integrity, accountability, compassion and respect.
- A community where boys are empowered to speak their truth, and encouraged to take responsibility for their choices
- A community where boys feel supported, listened to and valued.
- A community where boys see their peers are facing similar challenges, and they are NOT ALONE in their struggles.
The weekly meetings combine learning, fun, leadership opportunities, peer mentoring and self-esteem building exercises. All meetings are facilitated by one or more Boys to Men staff members, and supported by volunteer mentors. The group meetings range in size from 4 to 40 boys with an average ratio of 4 boys to 1 mentor.
Discussion topics include:
• What is your dream? What are you doing or not doing to achieve that dream?
• What kind of man do you want to be? What will you need to do to become that man
• What are you afraid of?
• What masks do you wear to hide what is really going on inside you?
• How does peer pressure affect you?
• What are you most proud of, and least proud of?
• Have you ever been bullied or been the bully?
Each meeting begins with a check-in round. A mentor models the check-in by sharing his teenage experience on that week’s topic. One of the most important tenets of BTM is the mentor doesn’t teach, lecture or tell boys what to do. He just tells his story and talks about the feelings he had when he was a teenager, the mistakes he made, the lessons he learned and the long-term consequences of his actions.
This approach gives the boys permission tell the truth about the challenges all teenage boys face, make their own decisions on how to deal with those challenges, and begin to take responsibility for their choices and the consequences of their actions.
Every third week the after school groups participate in a fun, physical activity like dodge ball, touch football or basketball. Playing together is an important program component that deepens the connection between boys and mentors.
Potential mentors are interviewed and carefully screened, and must pass a Federal criminal background check as well as any additional school board background checks required.
All mentors are required to attend an 8-hour mentor orientation, and receive ongoing feedback and training from BTM staff before and after the weekly sessions.
The group-mentoring model allows Boys to Men staff to monitor and evaluate the mentor’s interactions with the boys. All group leaders are trained to spot signs of predatory behavior. We frequently discuss predatory behavior at group sessions and instruct boys and mentors to immediately report ANY concerns or inappropriate behaviors to Boys to Men staff. Every meeting has at least one BTM staff member present.