"As a group of teen boys joked and scarfed down a pizza lunch in a Little Village classroom, their instructor posed questions: Is showing compassion and emotion manly? How do you prioritize responsibilities like homework and adequate sleep? What does it really mean to be a man?
Spearheaded by Chicago nonprofit Options for Youth, the 'What’s Up With Manhood?' program aims to redefine stereotypical images of masculinity in an effort to promote healthy relationships and choices, as well as instill a sense of responsibility. Organizers say those benefits could lead to a decrease in the amount of violence in their lives.
Options for Youth President Pat Mosena, who has been working with teens for decades, said boys living on Chicago’s South and West sides often tell her that violence is their biggest problem.
'The topic they talked most about was violence — at school, on the street and at home,' she said. 'So we tried to find a way to help them.'
After another Options for Youth program aimed at young men lost its funding about two years ago, Mosena wanted to develop a new program that took a fresh approach to violence prevention. She found Promundo, an international organization promoting gender equality and violence prevention, she said.
Using Promundo’s curriculum, Mosena developed 'What’s Up With Manhood?,' which is now being piloted with about 30 freshmen and sophomore boys at World Language Academy in Little Village as part of a city-funded mentoring program within that school."
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