Why the name change?
MEGA, previously known as Boy’s Group, stands for “Making Equal Genders Awesome” and is an in-school community mentoring program for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade boys and masculine-leaning young people.The purpose of changing the name of this program from Boys Group to MEGA is two-fold. First, it's to include masculine-leaning children who may be nonbinary or otherwise questioning gender, while maintaining the purpose of the mission to challenge toxic masculinity. After thinking deeply about the implications and anticipating any harm that could be done with the name change, we realized we should restructure the curriculum slightly. It is now less binary-based (girls/boys rather than recognizing the multiplicity and complexity of gender) while still based on masculinity, in order to keep up with current gender systems and roles. We are still highly focused on the target group, cisgender boys, where we know the harm needs to be prevented. Our mission and goals are the same, we are just very carefully and intentionally opening the doors to other children that feel masculine. Additionally, this change dissolves the Girls Group/Boys Group binary within MAP, which may be perpetuating the same gender-based harm that we are trying to prevent.
Embedded in the schools, the program’s curriculum focuses on helping young people broaden their understanding of healthy masculinity, explore their own identities, and connect with peers and their community. Positive messages about what it means to be a boy or masculine person in our society are talked about through games, journaling, discussions, and arts with their peers. These connections assists them in succeeding both academically and socially, while developing them into young adults that stand up to prevent violence and oppression.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, boys are 30% more likely than girls to flunk or drop out of school. Boys are growing up to commit over 90% of the violent crimes committed against women and girls. MEGA is infusing respect, gender equity, and nonviolence into the next generation of children.
We've developed an early intervention and primary prevention strategy aimed at fostering self-esteem and healthy masculinity through genuine caring relationships. This innovative programming encourages young people to improve decision-making and conflict-resolution skills, develop and maintain relationships with positive, caring adults, and reduce their participation in illegal and/or violent activities. We are committed to an environment filled with fun and friendship that encourages young people to grow.
In 2013/14 this program served over 80 students and their parents and helped support the work of 30 teachers and school staff utilizing 10-15 volunteers who met weekly during the school year. The program is set to expand to additional schools in the coming school year. BRP surveys show that boys experience major growth in assets that support healthy development and violence prevention while in the program. Cumulative surveys reveal that:
80% of students indicate they have friends at school and enjoy school
80% of teachers feel positive impact socially and emotionally
50% of teachers feel student’s academic performance is improved.
80% of boys surveyed will have an understanding of masculinity that extends beyond the social norms.
80%of students indicate they have developed a positive relationship with volunteers.
90% of volunteers report a positive relationship students.
Boys Groups are in high demand. Men As Peacemakers is unable to keep up with requests for from boys for additional groups.