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Study examines boys’ role in community

Project to gather information on young males’ participation level

A local non-profit society and nursing student are digging into why boys are “falling through the cracks” when it comes to community activities.

Trail FAIR and Selkirk College nursing student Brittney Hansen received funding from Teck Trail Operations though the first Teck Service Learning Internship (TeckServ) to launch “The Boys Connection Project.”

According to Trail FAIR’s executive director, Gail Lavery, the project will gather information about boys from ages seven to 14 and look at why they are or are not participating in community programs for their age group.

The society decided to target boys with a bit of a preventative approach in mind.

“It’s working with boys before they develop addictions, mental health problems, criminal behavior,” said Lavery.

“When we look at what makes a difference in a kid’s life, it’s often having an adult mentor — someone who really cares about them who’s not a paid counselor, who just really likes working with them on something.”

“We have lots of programs for women in our community but there really aren’t any programs for men that need them so I think the goal is to intervene at the youth level so that perhaps those boys won’t need those programs as men,” Hansen said, adding it doesn’t look like more men’s programs will be coming any time soon.

She has been conducting personal and phone interviews and uses surveys to gather the information, from which she will put together a report with her findings.

This will then be used by Trail FAIR for the second part of the project, to begin in September, which is federally funded through a Community Action Initiative (CAI) grant.

Targeting service providers in the community, teachers, school councilors, and boys themselves, Hansen asks questions about favored activities, what barriers they encounter and what they feel could be done to eliminate those, among others.

With no money in place for new programs, the information from The Boys Connection Project will also be important in determining how to make the CAI project sustainable and ongoing.

Lavery said a portion of the second part of the project will be fundraising sources to supplement organizations to provide things like equipment to boys participating in community programs.

“We really want to help with the financial barriers that boys from low-income families face in participating in some of the programs that are out there and doing some support and mentoring to the people who are leading these groups.”

Hansen applied for the position because she wants to work in public health and because she feels it’s important for the community to look at services available to young boys.

She hopes the data will help make programs more accessible and see service providers work together rather than individually when it comes to engaging disconnected boys, possibly sharing resources.