Men of CODE is back!
We are excited to announce our new partnership with Walter Johnson High School and Coach Charles Woolbridge. This week we were able to join the young men of the Walter Johnson football team for an introduction to Men of CODE. Our introductory session included an overview of the topics we will be covering as well as a brief description of the scope of the issues we hope to address. While many of these students hear phrases such as dating violence and domestic abuse thrown around the deep dive into the larger issues that allow violence to continue is often outside of the scope of the classroom.
As yesterday functioned primarily as an introduction to the program most of the input from the students came in the form of their participation in our pre-program survey. This survey will allow us to assess what these students currently know about the issues surrounding intimate partner violence and help us target our lessons for them as the summer progresses. We look forward to learning with and from these young men throughout the summer. Given that this was our first session the students were a little quiet, however as it was the day before their last day of school their level of engagement was to be expected. However their responses to the “What do you want to learn from this program?” question on the survey indicates a high level of interest. At least two respondents indicated that they wanted to understand what masculinity was and a few mentioned learning more about mental health. Given that these are two of the more difficult subjects to get a thorough hold on it’s great to see that they want to learn.
Although yesterday was not a formal lesson we were able to begin to get to know these students through an icebreaker where the students were encouraged to answer questions about their favorite toys as children, the last song they listened to, or the last time they cried. This small exercise allows us to begin to build relationships and understand where they are coming from. For the most part the students seemed willing to answer honestly, which give a sense of optimism about their willingness to talk moving forward.
As we move forward at Walter Johnson we will begin to address more and more difficult issues and ask them to answer increasingly complicated questions. As we have seen in past years these discussions with young men are imperative for giving them the tools to help us end domestic violence. Moving forward I hope that these young men gain the tools necessary to begin to break down the structures that allow domestic and sexual violence to continue.