Workshop supports male youth

Seeing a gap in services for young men in the community, UBCO nursing students bring in renowned speaker David Hatfield

A group of UBC Okanagan fourth year nursing students have recognized a lack of resources for male youth in the community.

As part of their leadership project, April Coulson, Amanda Sakamoto, Samaya Fentiman and Kyla MacPhail recognized a need and set out to fill it.

“We are passionate about promoting youth mental health in our community,” said Coulson.

In partnership with the Vernon Family Resource Centre and Christine Balfour from Health Promoting Schools, the group brought David Hatfield, a renowned speaker who specializes in transformative education, to Vernon to present to male youth ages 13 to 16.

The workshop, which took place last month at Seaton secondary school, was received positively by all of the young men who attended.

“The main topic of all my work is to critically examine how social ideas about masculinity are impacting us as males, and to build and promote a lived experience of a positive brotherhood of fellow guys who are supportive, open and curious about exploring a more open, responsible, emotionally authentic masculinity,” said Hatfield.

Within the workshop, he encouraged the young men to inform the topics — this allowed various themes to emerge which were discussed amongst the group such as violence, sexuality, drug use, friendship, body image, sports, politics, gender relations, sexual orientation, consent, becoming a young adult and rites of passage.

One young man who attended did not realize how much the workshop would impact him.

“I didn’t want to get up in the morning and go to this workshop, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t think it would apply to me,” said the young man, who wished to remain anonymous.

By the end of the day, his opinion had changed dramatically.

“This presentation impacted me in a really positive way,” he said. “David didn’t treat us like kids, and the group activities that we did helped us to connect and show support with each other; it has also helped me to start to question the ‘script’ we as boys are given.”

Coulson, Sakamoto, Fentiman and MacPhail would like to thank the businesses in the community for their generous donations.

“Without you, bringing David Hatfield to Vernon would not have been possible,” said Coulson. “Specifically, we would like to thank The Family Resource Centre, Health Promoting Schools School District 22 and Christine Balfour, Tim Hortons, The Marble Slab Creamery, Galaxy Cinemas, Monashees Bar and Grill, Lincoln Lanes bowling centre, Coopers Foods and ATO Contracting.

“We would also like to thank Seaton secondary school for providing us a location for our presentation.”