Walter Johnson Introduction Reflection
During our first meeting with the Walter Johnson football team, we focused on introducing the Men of Code program and addressing the mission of Becky’s Fund. Our interaction with the team during the icebreaker and the survey felt promising to me. The guys didn’t shy away from answering the questions in the icebreaker, even the ones that required more vulnerability like “when was the last time you cried.” Not to mention, when someone said the last time he cried was when he was little, his teammates called him out for lying, showing that these young men recognize that crying is ok and it is ok for a man to show vulnerability.
The pre-survey responses were heartening to read, with most of the young men clearly grasping the importance of bystander intervention and healthy relationships. The students struggled with the topics of healthy masculinity and mental health which weren’t a surprise, seeing confusing messaging around both of these issues. After all, men today are still commonly called upon to “be a man,” but that can interchangeably mean being a protector, being vulnerable/emotional with loved ones, and more. Masculinity in our society doesn’t always make sense, and I look forward to helping our students understand what “being a man” means and that men can be fully dimensional and be tough, assertive, shy and empathetic.
These small interactions give me a positive outlook for the program, and I look forward to building a space where everyone can feel comfortable expressing their experiences and asking questions about hard issues that they want to learn more about. I think I might need to sharpen my wit to work with these young men in order to keep their attention, and earn their respect and trust. I am excited to work with these young men and empower them to push the needle in talking about healthy relationships and their own personal role in ending gender-based violence.