'Our Sons' conference helping to nurture the men of the future
Young men from the community of Rockfort in east Kingston pose during the B3 Parenting Our Sons Motivational Conference last year at the Courtleigh Auditorium.
The facts speak for themselves. It appears that boys and young men are in crisis. There have been numerous headlines in newspapers and journals published over the years trumpeting the 'men crisis' with all the usual doom and gloom: boys and young men are less likely to graduate from university or launch successfully into employment; they are more likely to drop out of high school and be imprisoned et al.
But what is being done to stem the negative tide against males? Michelle Gordon, a mother of two children including a 14 year-old male teen, is not content with the present status quo. She came up with the novel concept of a motivational day dubbed #OurSons, geared towards male teens and young men, and held near to the annual celebration of Father's Day in Jamaica.
"Adolescence is a hard time for males, factors such as raging testosterone, at a time when they are trying to find their footing towards become men, often influences their decisions and at a time like this, positive influences are very important. Unfortunately there isn't a lot of that in Jamaica," parenting consultant and event conceptualiser Michelle Gordon told Loop News reporter Claude Mills.
The second staging of this powerful seed-planting event will take place on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Ballaz Liberty Park.
"The event will have positive motivational input to make better decisions because adolescence is the time when teenage males tend to go astray, issues begin to pop up, they get lippy and think they are in control when they are not. This event will provide a platform for guidance," she added.
This year, "guidance" will be provided by special guest speaker Sean Williams who is a transformation and leadership trainer, and motivational football coach Andre Virtue, joining a who's who list of other powerful presenters. This year's theme for the interactive session will be “Believe The Ball”, a sports-themed message of what it takes to win in the game of life.
"These men will provide our boys and young men with relatable, relevant and rewarding tools for success during the most defining and challenging years of their lives. Valuable lessons learned in sport can be applied in life, lessons in terms of teamwork, listening to and following instructions, the purpose of a coach and a parent intersect in so many ways," Gordon said.
Last year's guest speaker was international educator and guest speaker Troy Kemp, the Director of the National Canter for the Development of Boys in the US.
"We are encouraging schools to register boys for this event. We once again invite boys and young men from a broad scope of socio-economic backgrounds to attend this event. Attendance is free, but they must register online prior to the event," Gordon said.
To register, visit https://oursons2019.eventbrite.com . Adults who attend will be charged a fee of $500 at the gate. The event begins at 10 a.m and ends at 3 p.m.
The event is sponsored by Sagicor, The Office of the Children’s Advocate, Ballaz International Football Club, Phase 3, Creative Media & Events Ltd., Dub Jamaica Academy, KFC Jamaica and Aldor, a brand that falls under the umbrella of healthcare and consumer products distributor, Medical Disposables and Supplies Limited (MDS).
"Seeing reality is the first step towards changing it. Raising awareness is a start, but concrete measures are necessary to increase the well-being, mental health and social inclusion of boys and young men. We may very well be in the midst of a boy’s crisis. If so, inaction is not an option, so we are pleased to be associated with this wonderful event," MDS General Manager Kurt Boothe said.
Gordon made an impassioned appeal for fathers to "step up" to counteract the deleterious effects of social media and peers, and her football-themed session is an important first leap into what will be a difficult snare-infested journey of parenting a male adolescent.
"In sports where the ‘ball is round’, we know it has no bias toward either team or any player. Any outcome is possible and surprises can occur - just like in real life. It’s going to be fun, full of energy and transformational. The time is now to deepen our conversations about, and with our sons. Parents (especially fathers) are welcome to attend," Gordon said.