One of the most important reasons why I work with youth around gender, stereotypes and healthy relationships, is that I get the opportunity to engage in complex and thought provoking conversations with young men. Speaking of self- esteem, emotions, conflict resolution, and peer pressure with young men, we create a learning environment where masculinity as an ever evolving notion, can be explored and reflected upon.
We break down stereotypes and look at their ideas around what it means to be a powerful guy and how that contrasts and compares to the images media often attempts to convey to them as young men. We encourage critical thinking as it relates to identity, equality, and emotional intelligence. One of my favourite parts of our Respectful Relationships program is having Grade 11 and 12 young men come into Grade 7 and 8 classes to co-facilitate conversations with their younger peers. They talk about gender stereotypes and the importance of being able to express feelings and ask for help, as part of what makes a guy powerful. We are living in exciting times and my work with young men encourages me to keep providing these learning opportunities for social change to flourish.
Christina Antonick – R+R Adult Facilitator