The 36 boys in the Life Camps mentoring program at Humber Summit Middle School near Finch Ave. and Islington St. are among dozens of clusters of boys in schools across the city with mentors to call their own.
A: Yes, it’s definitely one strategy that can work; a number of boys I mentored are now in post-secondary education. The three mentors in the Life Camps are young men I mentored years ago when they were in Grade 7 and 8, and now they’re mentors themselves for boys in Grades 6, 7 and 8. One is in teacher’s (college) and the other two are applying.
A: We talk about some of the factors that can lead to violence, like poverty, racism and lack of opportunity — but also some of the dominant concepts around masculinity; that men have to be tough and in charge and authoritative and that comes with money and power.
Q: How do you broach those topics?
A: We look at the images of manhood in music videos and ads and we study song lyrics and even the perception of masculinity held by the adults in their lives. And we deconstruct them so they see there are diverse visions of what boys are, and that helps them understand who they are and who they can be. We also talk to the boys about violence against women, using curriculum from the White Ribbon campaign.
A: Sometimes we meet more than once a week, and but even if it’s just once, mentors often also get to know their families and probably are checking in with the boys and also their families during the week. Taking a straight penal approach (to violence) doesn’t address the factors that cause violence in the first place.