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Smart with My Heart-Supportive environment for boys in K-5 to learn how to take care of their minds, bodies, and their communities.

Develop an emotional literacy program for at-risk boys in K-5 to learn positive masculinity, healthy boundaries, and consent.

Photo of Marie Roker-Jones
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Our idea is to create safe spaces for at-risk boys to comprehend empathetic values and self-awareness as an alternative to anger and violence. We want to offer programs that address the stigma of mental health, the negative stereotypes of gender roles, and the importance of healthy boundaries and consent. We believe that if we start early in these conversations with boys, we can help them increase their emotional intelligence, foster better communication and conflict resolution skills. The program strives to instill a culture of brotherhood that embraces civility, compassion, and strength. In creating a safe, non judgmental space for boys to talk through their feelings, fears, and challenges, we break down the barriers to boys becoming men who are self-aware, compassionate, and connected responsible to their broader community.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our target population, economically disadvantaged boys in grades K-5 who are confronted with many barriers to success including behavioral and mental health issues, drug and alcohol use, disengagement from school, isolation, lack of parental involvement, and peer pressure.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There is an epidemic of anger and isolation with boys. Some boys find it challenging to express their emotions out of fear of being ridiculed or shamed. This leads to a suppression of healthy expression of disappointment or sadness. Most of the preventative measures to address violence against women and girls. gun violence, anger management skills, isolation with boys are limited in scope or are targeted to older boys in middle school, high school, or college. We want to address the needs of the whole child by creating child-centered wellness programs that help boys internalize wellness concepts and in turn externalize these concepts into social and emotional wellness. Our goal is to engage schools, camps, sports programs, to create learning clubs for boys that are small, inclusive, and empowering so that every boy feels that they are heard, respected and understood.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

I am the founder of Raising Great Men and #CompassionConvos, a movement to raise, uplift and empower boys to become confident, responsible and compassionate men.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we plan to register in the future.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." - Frederick Douglass As the mom of boys, I have personally experienced the challenges of connecting my sons to resources that promote healthy masculinity. Years ago, I asked my oldest son a question that began a journey of self-discovery: "What kind of man do you want to be?" The question was a starting point for him to examine manhood and masculinity and to explore how it shapes his viewpoint of gender roles.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Children are faced with a multitude of daily challenges from: daily learning, stress of (numerous) testing, peer pressure, bullying and stress at home. Wellness programs have been effective in increasing positive behavior and productivity as can be seen by the success of stress management and yoga programs in schools. For this population of at-risk boys, peer pressure, isolation, lack of positive male role models, bullying, poor social skills, and mental health stigmas can negatively impact how they view power, consent, conflict resolution, and their emotional and mental well-being. A healthy understanding of self and others influences how these boys relate to their communities and world. The earlier we address the problem, the better we will

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We are committed to educating and engaging all members of the school community including faculty and families. The Charter for Compassion- The Charter for Women and Girls- work with the Charter to co-create a balanced, healthy and sustainable curriculum for gender equity. online community that connects people and organizations to causes they care about, then inspires them to take action. Work with xocial to provide boys in the program with a platform to help them learn social responsibility to meet the needs of their community on a local and global level. NAMI- to help with providing a resources for mental health for boys. Local public schools- Our goal is to support boys in the program by ensuring a coordinated learning experience and strong partnership with their schools.

Geographic Focus

Public schools within the US who do not have a robust restorative justice program.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This project idea will require 36 months to complete.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH

Good to see this idea Marie Roker-Jones ! Stellar! I support your project as I have known your commitment and work for years and wish you all the best!

Photo of Marie Roker-Jones

Thank you Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH for your support! I appreciate your comment.