NEW MINAS, NS - New Minas Recreation is stepping outside the box and offering a program geared specifically towards boys.
The focus over the past few years has been on providing program for girls instead. Programming that promotes physical activities for girls and women has been identified provincially and nationally as a priority area for the past few years.
John Ansara, director of recreation and community development, says research shows that female participation in sport and physical activity has been declining drastically over the past few decades and that this decline begins in middle school and continues through high school.
“The research also shows that girls are more inclined to participate in girls-only activities,” says Ansara, “which is why you may have noticed a spike in the number of programs like New Minas' Girls Night Out or Rad Squad - they serve a much-needed purpose.”
With the increase in programs for girls, many parents were left wondering about similar activities for their sons.
“Society isn't doing themselves any favours by deliberately marginalizing an entire gender just to compensate for the past,” says Canning resident Rea O’Leary, a mother of two boys who would have benefited from such a male-oriented program.
“We have to stop having our boys fall through the cracks.”
Kentville resident Kate Kaiser says when she tried to find programs for boys only in the area, she was told funding was just for girls’ programs as boys keep busy on their own.
Ansara agrees that boys have traditionally been more likely to participate in sport and physical activity, but there is a noticeable trend these days of those numbers declining.
“The number of boys who aren't involved in traditional sport is increasing,” says Ansara. “And maybe they are spending more of their free time in front of screens than being physically active.”
Ansara says they received requests from parents who felt their sons could benefit from a similar program to the Girls Night Out program already in operation. The Girls Night Out program, organized by Kellie Shillington, is where girls aged eight to 13 are paired with a volunteer from Acadia who leads them through various activities on a weekly basis.
Thus, the program For the Boys was created.
“We're hopeful that the boys in this program will see how much fun physical activity can be and develop skills that will help with their confidence in participation,” says Ansara.
Similar to the Girls Night Out program, boys nine to 14 years old in the Kings County area will be paired with a male university student with each evening filled with different activities located at the New Minas Louis Millet Complex.
There are 20 spots available. The program is free, but participants must commit by registering for the eight weeks. Registration can be done on line at www.newminas.com/recreation/programs. The first night is Jan. 27.
For the Boys may continue to run past this first eight-week trial period, says Ansara. He says New Minas Recreations tries to base its programming on the needs of the community and it does seem that there is a population of boys that could benefit from this type of program.
“So, as long as that need exists, we will do our best to service it,” says Ansara.
Go online: Learn more at www.newminas.com/recreation/programs