Spring Has Sprung!
As was the case for all of us, 2020 was a year like no other in the 15 years since Boys to Men Canada was birthed in the Montréal area with a handful of dedicated volunteer mentors and community-based group mentoring circles.
When the pandemic became real in mid to late February, we had six active after-school group mentoring circles for boys (4) and girls (2). We were also busy making final plans to screen the movie ‘Brotherhood’ in partnership with Reel Canada, in Montréal, Toronto and Nanaimo on April 20, 2020, National Canadian Film Day and deliver our Spring Adventure Weekend (AW) for male youth on the weekend of April 17-19, 2020. Needless to say, all our in-person programming and events were wiped out and we were forced to reset and, in many ways, re-invent ourselves.
On March 11, 2020, we officially launched our Virtual Mentoring Program (VMP) with four weekly circles available for our youth members and volunteer mentors. The VMP continued through the balance of the 2019-2020 school year, with one of the circles running throughout the summer and ongoing to this day. This VMP circle is available to male members of our three Montréal area BTM Canada after-school groups and consistently offers a supportive space during these uncertain times. Our Vancouver Island after-school boys group returned to in-person circles in the Fall of 2020 and continues to run once a week, strong and safe.
The demand and need for our programming have increased as the impact of the pandemic has deepened. In response to this, we developed and launched the following three initiatives:
- Our brand-new virtual training program for volunteer mentors, the Circle Culture Academy (CCA) launched on December 09, 2020. The CCA is a 16-week training program that prepares participants to work with male youth using Boys to Men Canada’s mentoring methodology.
- Our Staff Support Circle (SSC) was launched on February 04, 2021 for teachers and support staff from Laval Senior Academy (LSA), the largest English-speaking high school in the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB). The SSC is offered bi-weekly and provides a non-judgmental and supportive environment for staff to speak their truth and cultivate personal and collective growth.
- Our Parent & Caregiver Support Circle (PCSC) was launched on March 03, 2021 for members of our LSA family. The PCSC is offered weekly and is a confidential and supportive space for parents and caregivers of teens to have honest conversations about the challenges, emotions and practicalities that they are dealing with every day.
Looking forward to the Fall of 2021, we are hopeful to return to our five in-person after-school group mentoring circles in the Montréal area, and continue with the Virtual Mentoring Program, which is here to stay. We are also looking to deliver at least one AW for male youth north of Montréal. As we have since the start of the pandemic, we will adhere to and follow the guidelines for in-person events issued by our federal and provincial health ministers.
Here in the Great North, signs of the arrival of Spring abound, awakening hopes of new beginnings and possibilities.
I am confident that we will emerge from this unique time in our history stronger individually and collectively and offer deep thanks for the continued generosity of all our volunteers and celebrate the resilience of the youth we serve.
Boys to Men Canada