Local orgs teach students healthy masculinity, ways to prevent violence against women

The program is piloting with eighth-grade boys at Jones Leadership Academy
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 6:52 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The YWCA of Northwest Ohio and Toledo Public Schools are teaming up to prevent violence against women.

They’ve formed the AMEND Together club at Jones Leadership Academy of Business to teach eighth-grade boys how to be men and treat women with respect.

“We’re learning how to be a man, teamwork, and how to treat women,” said Branden Ridley, a student in the club.

The YWCA’s Vice Present Karyn McConnell says their women’s shelters are almost always at capacity, often as a result of partner-based domestic violence, which is why she wanted to help start the program.

“If we can help them understand why violence against women is wrong, any violence really, but why this is wrong, then they won’t enter into the system, we can break the domestic violence cycle, and hopefully we can keep them on the right path to grow up to become responsible, contributing young men,” McConnell said.

The club tackles uncomfortable topics such as toxic masculinity, stereotypes, and societal attitudes toward women.

“We’re really trying to help them transition into the journey of manhood,” said AMEND Together coach Brysen Davis. “We want to help decrease the violence against women and children, so we’re really trying to help them focus in on finding positive outlets for their emotions.”

Students in the club say it’s been impactful.

“It’s made me more confident in myself to express my feelings,” said student Branden Ridley. “It doesn’t make us any less manly than we are. It’s just the fact that some people think that way.”

The hope is that young men will grow up, go out into their communities, and share their lessons.

“As we teach these things in our youth, they become fathers and coaches. Just think about how much impact they have on the community,” said Jones Leadership Academy Principal Dr. Ward Barnett.

The YWCA and TPS are currently piloting the program but hope to expand the club to more students at Jones Leadership Academy and other schools within TPS. They’re also considering bringing the club to other area districts to increase their reach.

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