March 31, 2005

Boys, Men, and Stinky the Robot

Stinky the Robot, Four Kids And a Brief Whiff of Success

I just love this story because it stands for everything I believe in. For almost lost high school boys and a couple of men that engaged the boys in building an underwater robot, beat a highly educated and well funded team of MIT types in a national competition. Kind of a boy cinderella story.

You can read this short story and learn about it's terribly sad aftermath. But it's still powerful testimony about the power of an adult male's positive influence in a boy's life.

If you know of other stories like this one, please share them with me. I'll post them on the Journey to Manhood website to inspire us all.

March 29, 2005

Become a Communitarian

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam

Harvard’s Robert Putnam, is a true Communitarian. In his now classic book Bowling alone, he says that if people are involved in their communities, our society will be "smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy." When people are involved in their community it also makes it a wonderful place to raise young people.

Sadly, his research, based on 500,000 interviews over the last 25 years, indicates we’re all moving… no running in the other direction. He says Americans are more isolated from each other and less engaged in civic life than ever. Try on these findings and see if it fits your experience.

• Since the mid 60s, the number of Americans who reported that they had attended a public meeting or town or school affairs has fallen by more than a third.

• Labor union membership has fallen for three decades.

• The ranks of volunteers for civic organizations has plummeted. In the 70s nearly two-thirds of all Americans attended club meetings, but by the late 90s nearly two-thirds of all Americans never do.

• Involvement in politics has declined and fewer than half the population vote in presidential elections.

• We spend about 35% less time visiting with friends than we did thirty years ago. Leisure activities that involve doing something with someone else, from playing volleyball to playing chamber music, are declining. The premise of his book is that we're even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues.

The burning question is: What might you do support the young people around you… and to become a communitarian?

Click here to order Bowling Alone from Amazon

MENTOR: A National Voice

Mentor is THE national organization working to develop strong mentoring programs around the country. If you want to start a program that involves adults showing up for kids, this would be a great place to start. In addition to a multitude of other resources they also offer a design template for a solid mentoring group.

"MENTOR is widely acknowledged as the nation's premier advocate and resource for the expansion of mentoring initiatives nationwide. As such, MENTOR works with a strong network of State and Local Mentoring Partnerships to leverage resources and provide the support and tools that mentoring organizations need to effectively serve young people in their communities. "

March 22, 2005

Facts: Who Needs Mentors

Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota: "Fast Facts about Mentoring in America

35.2 million young people ages 10-18 in US today
1 out of 4 lives with only one parent
1 out of 10 was born to teen parents
1 out of 5 lives in poverty
1 out of 10 will not finish high school

About half of young Americans - 17.6 million young people - want or need caring adult mentors to help them succeed in life. Of those 17.6 million young people, 2.5 are currently in formal mentoring relationships.

That leaves 15.1 million youth still in need of formal mentoring relationships. Based on Census data, the Mentoring Partnership estimates 450,000 Minnesota youth alone would benefit from a mentoring relationship. They say, "We call this our mentoring gap."

And this is just one state!

March 21, 2005

Gender REALLY Matters - In School

Salt Lake Tribune - Opinion: " The first step to overcoming gender, it turns out, is admitting how much it matters. "

I loved this article that clearly lifts us out of the "unisex stew" and talks about how boys and girls brain biology develop differently. It clearly names just two of the many ways these brain differences can damage both boys and girls. It hints at some of the critical flaws in the design of our whole education system.

Read this at the risk of becoming a radical!

March 15, 2005

MOTHERS and Making Good Men

This article, written by New Zealander Jo Bailey and reported in ManAlive news, is about Celia Lashlie, a former prison guard who speaks to the dilemma facing concerned mothers who are raising boys. She gives some surprising advice to mom's and yet another call for the men to step forward.

"If adolescent boys could tell their mothers one thing, what would it be?

Chill out and stop asking so many questions...!

Boys want their mothers to understand they know she's there, that she cares and that they will talk to her if something big happens in their lives, but they also need some space from her on their journey to manhood. What they do need is a lot less mollycoddling from mum and significantly more time spent with the good men in their lives."

March 10, 2005

Boys and positive body image

I'm old enough to remember seeing the adds in comic books that showed the big, muscular guy at the beach kicking sand in the face of the skinny guy. Like most gangly adolescents, I wanted what the big guy had. I don't remember what the add was selling but I do have a rather tragic memory of me endlessly lifting weights in the basement or our house to pump myself up... body image isn't just a female issue.

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders are predominantly "female" problems, they also affects boys. NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Assn., says that "In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia..." and another 25 million are dealing with binge eating.

This link on their site has especially good advice for helping boys have a positive body image and dealing with others around this issue.