The West

Boys taught it is OK to cry
Workshops: Canadian schoolteacher Dana Kerford. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Perth boys will be taught that it is acceptable to cry and encouraged to express their feelings as part of a pilot program to be held next month.

Canadian schoolteacher Dana Kerford, whose GirlPower workshops for teenage girls proved popular in WA last year, will return to Perth to test her new boys program GoodGuys.

Ms Kerford said the workshop, aimed at Year 5s, had attracted strong interest so far from several boys' schools. She said a focus on girl empowerment in recent years had seen boys "left in the dust" and there were very few programs that instructed boys on how to resolve conflicts, develop self-awareness and express their emotions in a healthy manner.

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"Boys are good at confronting little things, but when dealing with deeper issues they don't know how to put a voice to those feelings because they are told to suck it up, to be a man, that boys don't cry," Ms Kerford said.

"We will talk about the key issues boys are facing, and emasculating those things, putting a feminine quality to their friendships."

Self-esteem and body image was also a growing issue among young boys, Ms Kerford said.

"They are equally as affected by sexualisation and objectification in the media, and feel pressures relating to body image, pressures to be muscular, have a six pack," she said.

"Ultimately we want to teach them how to have a voice in their relationships so when they are experiencing any sort of issue, they have healthy ways to express themselves."

More than 1500 girls have registered for two GirlPower workshops at Perth College, which help girls aged six to 12 develop self-esteem and manage friendships.

The college has held 27 parent-daughter workshops and 10 girls-only courses since Ms Kerford's visit last year, as part of its leadership program Inside Out.

Perth College principal Jenny Ethell said the program had created better relationships between students and enhanced the school's academic performance.

"We're seeing less conflict in the playground, greater focus in class, and a greater resilience and level of happiness," Ms Ethell said.

The GirlPower workshops will be held on April 29 and May 3, and the GoodGuys workshop will run on May 2.

For more information on both of the workshops, contact Perth College.

The West Australian

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