What is The Council?
The Council is a model of structured, gender-relevant support groups for boys and young men from 9-18 years. The Council aims to promote boys’ natural strengths, and to increase their options about being male in today’s world. The Council challenges myths about how to be a "real boy" or "real man." It engages boys in activities, dialogue, and self-expression to question stereotypical concepts and to increase boys’ emotional, social, and cultural literacy by promoting valuable relationships with peers and adult facilitators. In a safe and action-oriented context, boys can identify the positive and not-so-positive definitions about being male today. They are invited to define the "male box" that shapes and constricts their growth. For example, most boys are told from their earliest years, "boys don’t cry," or "act like a man." The Council lets boys examine these messages that define being male, and gives boys new and different options for self-expression and team experiences, promoting skill building and safe, healthy, positive, strong and diverse identities.
When boys have an opportunity to express ideas, identify and normalize a full range of emotions, and make decisions in a safe, non-judgmental community, their resiliency is strengthened. By examining social and cultural expectations about what it means to be a boy and a man in our society, boys experience a greater freedom to make decisions for themselves about who they are, what is most true for them, whom they choose to be and how they choose to live. With this freedom, boys can stand strong in themselves, stand up for beliefs, without fear, prevent violence, harassment, or abuse, and stand in solidarity. The Council encourages understanding, critical thinking skills, pride, unity ad positive regard for diversity as boys grow toward manhood.
In The Council, boys and young men will:
- Experience belonging and connection with adults and peers
- Discover the principles they want to live by
- Recognize others’ perspectives and experiences
- Develop empathic skills
- Participate in fun and stimulating activities
- Find motivation and courage to act on their principles
- Desire to act with self-respect
- Find respect for girls and women, and for all those that they perceive as vulnerable
- Embrace the power within themselves and within their bonds as a community
- Learn to be allies with one another and within all of their relationships
- Find restored hope, belief, and skills to live a good life