Men of Strength Helps Newark

Men of Strength helps Newark
High School teens make
connections
Feb. 14, 2013
Written by
Anna Jeffries
Advocate Reporter
NEWARK — “Donʼt be a sissy — be a man.”
“Quit acting like a girl.”
“Act tough, like a man.”
Asa GreenRiver knows most teenage boys have heard these
statements at one point in their lives. But he wants them to
understand there is more to being a man than what they see on
TV or hear from their peers.
For the rest of the school year, GreenRiver will visit Newark High
School twice each week to share the Men of Strength program
with about 20 male students.
His goal is for every student in Josh Devollʼs Opportunities
for Success class to start thinking differently about
themselves and how they treat others.
“I want to see their attitudes change,” GreenRiver said. “This
(program) is telling them things they can do to make a difference.”
Men of Strength — often called MOST — is an education
program for middle and high school boys developed by Men
Can Stop Rape, a national organization dedicated to ending
violence, particularly violence against women.
One way to do that is to redefine the concepts of masculinity and
male strength, GreenRiver said.
“The goal is to create allies out of men,” he said. “We want them
to see that they can stand up.”
The programʼs 22-week curriculum focuses on tolerance, respect,
conflicts, anger and stress management and relationships.
GreenRiver, assistant coordinator for Mental Health America
of Licking Countyʼs Prevent Assault and Violence Education
program, in one of several facilitators in the state trained to
lead MOST programs.
While facilitating a group in the Licking Heights Local School
District, GreenRiver started working with Devoll to bring the
program to Newark High School.
In his Opportunities for Success class, Devoll teaches 40
NHS students about setting goals and the importance of
staying in school.
He tries to offer them as many opportunities as possible to
learn life skills and the value of a diploma.
“Research shows if a student makes a positive connection in
school, they are more likely to stay in school,” Devoll said. “Thatʼs
the biggest thing.”
MOST seemed like a great option to break the students into
groups to talk about gender specific issues, Devoll said. While
the boys go through MOST on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the
girls participate in Mission Sisterhood, a leadership program
offered through the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Splitting the students into groups, makes it easier for them to talk
candidly about aspects of their lives, such as friends and
relationships, Devoll said.
The groups also will introduce students to positive role models.
“I think Asa does a great job of energizing (the guys),” he said.
“He relates to them.”
GreenRiver started teaching MOST at the high school this month.
On Tuesday, he told the students he expected them to be open
about whatʼs happening in their lives.
“Itʼs important that you share your life with people,” he said. “Itʼs
not good to keep stuff inside.”
GreenRiver told the studentʼs they would talk about how
masculinity is presented in movies and music, as well as their
ideas of what it means to be a man.
“We are going to set the record straight,” he said. “You all have a
lot of potential. I know some of you donʼt believe that. But you do.”
Junior Kevin Emch and freshman Drew Kelley were two of the
students listening to GreenRiver during Tuesdayʼs class.
“I think (MOST is) a good idea,” Drew said. “I think we are making
a lot of progress toward being respectful adult men.”
Kevin said he felt more comfortable speaking openly in a group of
male students then he would in a mixed group. MOST will likely
become another thing he looks forward to in Opportunities for
Success.
“(The class) helps me get up for school in the morning because I
know I have this period to relax, but still do work and learn,” he
said.
GreenRiver said he is excited to share activities and lessons with
the students that will break down barriers and change their
thinking.
“Itʼs going to be a challenge but I see so much potential (in all of
them),” he said. “Itʼs going to be work, but it will be worth it.”