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The Manhood Academy For Boys: "Part Of The Solution" Part 2

PAUL REID, founder of Origin, the first African rites of passage charity to be established in the UK during 2000, believes that charities like the Manhood Academy are fulfilling a vital need in the black community. He said:

“Organisations like the Origin and the Manhood Academy can prepare black youths for the world – not through rose-coloured glasses, but helping them to wise-up to the life they are in and will face.”

The Academy has different courses which are tailored to different needs and ages. For example, pre teens between the ages of eight and 12 can enrol in six-week courses, which are an ongoing cycle where boys can join at any time with modules entitled Air, Water, Earth and Fire.

Today (13 May), a new crop of pre-teens will begin the Fire module, which will teach them how to resolve conflicts and distinguish between the negative aspect of the fire element anger and the positive aspect, their inspired passion.

CHALLENGE

“We encourage the youngsters through a process of learning the values of social and emotional intelligence, the art of not to react negatively to provocation and challenge”, co-founder Aundrieux Sankofa says.


Photo credit: Living Civil

“They are taught that before accomplishment is achieved challenges will be experienced as part of life’s lessons and they need to prepare for this in a wise way."

Teenagers from 13 to 19 years of age have the option of enrolling on a one-year course, which rolls over annually, where they can receive one-to-one life coaching and support from the team of Manhood Academy men.

The potential benefits of the Manhood Academy’s syllabus are a counteraction to the startling increase in violent youth crime in London. Teenagers participating in the Manhood Academy are encouraged to participate in a life changing Coming of Age rites of passage ceremony in Gambia. The coming of age trip to Africa can be loosely termed as a cultural exchange and will take place at the end of the program’s annual cycle.

“Youngsters from the UK will be partnered with kids their age from Gambia and will face various challenges together in a rural setting,” Sankofa said.

“They will engage in fishing, farming activities and enter schools to support and inspire students less privileged to learn gratitude and empathy. They will finally experience a rites of passage challenge and coming home ceremony, during which they will pass through a veil from boyhood to manhood.


Photo credit: Basim Blunt / WYSO

“The cultural exchange programme has required long-term planning with partners like Kori Community Centre, a youth programme in Turnpike Lane, north London, who are an experienced youth exchange organisation. We are working towards our objective and the community has been very supportive financially, by their donations.”

GUIDANCE

The Manhood Academy founders received guidance and endorsement from Origin rites of passage in south London when then began blueprinting the program.

Davis Williams, author of No Enemy Within and Along Came a Lion and another co founder of the Manhood Academy, explained that youths often need to be healed mentally and emotionally before they undergo the rites of passage ceremony. He says:

“A lot of our young males have seen and experienced terrible things, like stabbings, abuse and prejudice. As a result, some experience depression and feelings of low self-esteem, which is why we strive to overwhelm them with love and positive affirmation.

“We encourage them to have their own 10 commandments, such as never to hit a woman.”


Photo credit: Engage NY

Sonia Smith has noticed that the Academy’s approach improves dialogue, which in turn provides opportunities to offer advice.

“When my son left home it was one of the brothers at Manhood who, with great skill and insight, related to and reached out to my son with compassion and a non-judgmental approach. His intervention helped me and my son to reach a peaceful reconciliation.”

Ambia Mala is part of the growing number of mothers who send children to the Academy, and who also benefits from the Parenthood Academy programme for adults.

BENEFITS

Discussing the benefits of the programme, Mala says:

“We are encouraged to develop qualities and particularly our strengths; in a very subtle way.

“When parents are committed and loving the results are positive for the children under their care.”

The Manhood Academy’s summer Tween program for eight to 12 year-olds, runs every Saturday from today (13 May 2017) between 10am and 1pm. For more information on this and full online registration, click here or call anytime on 07956 573 783.

Part 1 of this feature was published yesterday at 6.07am GMT. Click here to read it.

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