Friday, July 22, 2011

WiseGuyz: engaging young men in sexual health programming

In today's blog, our own Blake Spence reflects on the first year of the WiseGuyz Program.

The WiseGuyz Program began in February 2010 with a focus to engage young men in a sexual health program that would address their specific needs.  The research report we produced in 2008, Promoting Sexual Health for Young Men, confirmed that young men face significant barriers in accessing sexual health information.  We knew we had to learn the best method to present material and how to create a safe space for the group to discuss sexual health, relationships, and masculinity. Information was presented in styles ranging from a casual drop-in basis, to a facilitated group discussion, to a structured program.  We reached 52 young men in various settings during this phase of the project.

After piloting the program in various settings, we decided that focusing on the junior high population would have the most impact.  The transition to high school is significant. If young men are equipped with tools to help them deal with the pressures, decisions and multiple stresses teens face in high school, we are confident that they will have better outcomes overall.

Twenty-four grade 9 boys completed the program in 2010.  We are very proud of the program content, activities and skill building opportunities provided to the young men and the positive impact it is having.

The WiseGuyz program reached 76 young men and partnered with 3 Junior High Schools.

The first year of WiseGuyz has been amazing to be part of. We have created a program that I am extremely proud of as it is thoroughly enjoyed by participants and is fundamental to their development as responsible young men.

Blake Spence
WiseGuyz Program Coordinator

"I would like to thank you for brining WiseGuyz to Sherwood School. The boys have spoken very positively about it, and appreciate (and adore) you and your efforts.  I suppose one sad thing is that the more work you do with these boys, the greater need we see for programming such as this to help young men develop healthy skills, relationships and accurate knowledge about sexual health issues."
- Alex McKay, Principal of Sherwood Community School