Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Developing Empathy in Boys
I am thrilled to announce and promote a new after-school curriculum for boys, the Young Tritons’ Running Club. Just like our girls, our young boys struggle with forming a healthy self-image and identity. However, we too often ignore this process with boys.
Boys get bombarded with messages that narrow what it means to be male in our society. Our movies, television shows, music and marketing tell us what it means to be male. What if deep inside they actually wish to be something not included in our society’s definition of masculinity? Can a boy growing up in modern America feel as safe and comfortable exploring dance as football? If he would rather paint than tinker with a car, is he masculine? Is it okay for him to cry when hurt, sad, or thrilled? Can he eat kale or like the color pink without having his male-ness questioned? Is playing with Legos as acceptable as learning to sew? What if he does like football, Legos, and automotive work? What happens to a young boy when the way he sees himself and the way our culture defines him are in conflict? What happens to a young boy when he does like all things deemed masculine, but it leads to a lack of caring, openness, and comfort with his own feelings and concerns?
The Young Tritons’ Running Club is an after-school program that meets twice weekly for six weeks and focuses on helping boys develop a greater sense of empathy while preparing to run a 5k. We chose empathy as our initial goal because it is from empathy that valuing others’ experiences stems. When boys are empathetic they bully one another less and develop a broader understanding of others. Empathy is the foundation from which we allow others to be their authentic selves – beginning literally with ourselves.
If you are male and an elementary school teacher, have an elementary school-age son, and/or might want to coach twice weekly for six weeks, please consider the Young Tritons’ Running Club. A webpage will be down the road, but in the meantime you can contact our older sister program, The Mini-Mermaid Running Club at http://www.minimermaidrunningclub.org/