“Passport To Manhood” Program Is Helping Turn Boys Into Men

UNION COUNTY – For many adolescent males, the transition from boyhood to manhood is a challenging one. This journey requires young men to understand and manage such things as physical changes in their bodies, relationships with authority, friends and members of the opposite sex, greater freedom and responsibility for personal decisions and increased peer pressure. To help make this transition a positive and healthy one, Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County is implementing the “Passport to Manhood” program this September.

Designed for young men, ages 11-14, “Passport to Manhood” addresses such issues as ethics, decision making, wellness, fatherhood, employment and careers, cooperation and conflict, diversity, relationships and self-esteem. The 14-session small-group program will use role playing, peer discussions, games and art projects to explore values, attitudes and behaviors necessary for a healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood.

At the beginning of the program, participants are given “passports” to detail lessons learned on each leg of their journey. After each program session, the group facilitator signs and “stamps” each member’s passport with the date. During each session, the young men will establish standards related to the values promoted in the session. These standards become a code of conduct by which all members agree to live. During a graduation ceremony planned by the youth, the graduates present and recite their code of conduct and are recognized for taking critically important steps toward manhood.

“The hope is that graduates will be examples for other club youth entering the program,” said Russell Triolo, chief executive officer. “Who better to teach and lead youth than their peers? ‘Passport to Manhood’ provides such an opportunity.”

“Passport to Manhood” is part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Fatherhood Project, an initiative promoting male responsibility and providing support and resources for teen fathers who are Club members, as well as adult fathers of Club members.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) comprises a national network of more than 2,800 neighborhood-based facilities annually serving some 3.3 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances.

The Boys & Girls Club has played an integral role in Union County community for 58 years, providing daily programs and services to thousands of young people. The Club is open year round with programs that emphasize character and leadership development, education and career enhancement, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, which operates facilities in Union, Roselle, Plainfield, Elizabeth and Hillside, serves over 7,500 children. They seek to inspire and enable young people, who need them most, to realize their full potential and have provided opportunity for youth since 1955. They are part of a national network of some 4,000 neighborhood-based facilities, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which serves more than 4.6 million young people annually, in all 50 states and on U.S. military bases worldwide. Known as “The Positive Place for Kids,” the clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, financial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and family outreach.

To find out more Passport to Manhood and the many year round youth development programs offered by BGCUC, visit http://www.bgcuc.org or call 908-687-7976 ext. 1.

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