Boneco de Sousa_1_(C) Priya Dabasia_Being ManKind

Being ManKind: men and boys in the 21st century

Being ManKind wants to reach children and young adults with positive male role models, using their books, lesson plans and workshops. Editor Joe Byrde tells Let Toys Be Toys about their plans and their new kickstarter campaign.

When Dave Chawner, a stand-up comedian, summoned the courage to go to his GP suffering from depression, he never expected to be diagnosed with clinical anorexia.

When Jack Morris left a promising career in the police to stay at home while his wife went out to work, his friends found it difficult to understand such an arrangement.

boy reading Being ManKind vol 1

Being ManKind vol 1

While women’s rights often rightly dominate the gender equality discourse, the role that men play in this equation is sometimes overlooked. Girls may now aspire to careers and lifestyles traditionally considered to be the sole preserve of men, but boys often remain restricted by a limited range of social and vocational roles to assume in life. Being ManKind believes that if men can lead their lives without feeling constrained by traditional concepts of masculinity, this could be beneficial to not only their own well-being but to all those around them.

boys often remain restricted by a limited range of social and vocational roles to assume in life.

man having his hair cut

Tom Chapman, barber

Being ManKind Vol. 1 is a collection of inspiring stories told by men from all walks of life. They offer an opportunity for boys to draw on a diverse variety of experiences to decide for themselves what it means to be a man. The book wants to show that once you get past polarised gender expectations, you find that the commonality of humanity is kindness. Through the stories they tell, men will be given the opportunity to become the greatest individuals they can be, both for themselves and those around them.

…inspiring stories told by men from all walks of life … offer an opportunity for boys to draw on a diverse variety of experiences to decide for themselves what it means to be a man.

Alternative role models for boys

The unseen crisis of identity that has resulted in men accounting for three-quarters of suicides in the UK has been brought to public attention by organisations such as CALM, Movember and the Lions Barber Collective, who all recognise the need for this silent killer to be tackled out loud. As part of this, Being ManKind wants to reach children and young adults with positive male role models to emulate instead.

two men chatting over coffee

Buy one, donate one

For every book sold, another is donated to a school or youth organisation, so that these stories can start to challenge preconceptions from the earliest age. Our ultimate aim is to use the Being ManKind stories to ignite conversations in schools and youth organisations in a creative, engaging and unique way. We have created a series of lesson plans and workshops to accompany the donated books. The plans, for 9-11 years and 11+ years, are perfectly suited for schools (PSHE or registration period), youth organisations and older groups (e.g. young offenders’ institutions, pupil referral units).

Each session addresses a different, thought-provoking topic, such as body image, mental health and relationships. The common thread throughout the series of eight sessions is to inspire young people to be open, honest and individual thinkers. Feedback from students demonstrates the power of using real-life experiences to raise important issues, “I liked reading about other people’s stories, they taught us that we should treat others equally” (Year 8).

Feedback from students demonstrates the power of using real-life experiences to raise important issues, “I liked reading about other people’s stories, they taught us that we should treat others equally”.

When asked about what messages they had learned, one Year 6 student summed it up perfectly “To be proud of who you are and to be an excellent role model to others”. It also reinforced the need to foster these conversations in mixed-sex groups where possible, as we strongly believe that we all have a part to play to make change happen. These amazing young people are the future, and we are driven to spread our stories and resources nationwide and beyond.

At the moment, we are undertaking final pilots of our educational plans in schools, colleges and youth groups. Once we have received complete feedback from our pilot groups, the revised plans will be available for download from http://www.beingmankind.org/education/ for all to access.

Back Being ManKind’s kickstarter campaign

man and babyThe first year of the project has been incredible, and now that we know the model is successful in positively impacting young people, we want to take it to the next level. On April 10th 2017 Being ManKind launched a 35-day kickstarter campaign, so that we can crowdfund to build a community around the mission, scale the project, and turn it into a sustainable project for good.

To help spread the word, we have made a video featuring a track crafted by Emmanuel Speaks, the spoken word poet who features on the cover of our book:

 

The Being ManKind anthology does not end with those stories published in the book. We want to continue collecting more stories and reach as many young people as possible. So if you are interested in finding out more or submitting your own story please get in touch at beingmankind@superbeinglabs.org

About the writer
Joe Byrde is the editor for Being ManKind. His role is to ensure that the stories maintain the diversity and voice of the storyteller, whilst also weaving them together to form the book. Joe is also responsible for managing the social media channels for the project.

You can find out more about the project on the Being ManKind website, and you can also pledge your support for the Being ManKind kickstarter campaign.

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