next-gen-men-logo2Next Gen Men is a non-profit organization focused on building better men through youth engagement, education, and empowerment. Our team has been very busy for the past few months preparing for the launch of our first programs in 2015, but the idea and inspiration for Next Gen Men has been in the works for a long time now.

Back in April 2014, Rachel Giese‘s article in The Walrus on “The Talk – A New Sex-Ed for Boys” sparked a conversation among us, and many others across Canada. Giese’s article highlighted the great work of WiseGuyz, a program of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre that runs sexual health education designed to address the specific needs of young men. The program covers topics including human rights, sexual health, gender, and positive relationships with junior high-aged boys, and most importantly, WiseGuyz engages head-on with the “radical act of teaching them to question all they have been told about what it means to be a man, and then helping them figure out how to become a good one.”

WiseGuyz has been receiving a lot of well-deserved attention and interest, and it really raises the question: why aren’t these conversations, these programs, and these initiatives for young men happening more widely?

We are frequently ignored in sexual health initiatives that teach girls how to protect themselves, but let boys off the hook when it comes to taking responsibility for the sexual health of their partners and themselves. We often think we are invincible – taking risks with sex, drugs and alcohol, and other potentially unsafe activities – and we don’t reach out for help – struggling with our physical, mental, and emotional health challenges in silence. We are constantly told that we should be strong, act tough, and never show our feelings.

With Next Gen Men, we are determined to change this paradigm. Thanks to an amazing opportunity from Movember Canada, we have the resources to launch our first school-based programs for young men in the Greater Toronto Area in 2015, and we plan to expand our reach in the coming years. We believe that starting the conversation about what it means to be a man with young males at a crucial point in their lives will have a lasting impact on their physical, mental, emotional, and sexual health and development, and a positive influence within our communities.

Stay connected with us for more updates in the coming weeks!

— Jason