Coaching Boys into Men at SWB Boston
Soccer Without Borders Boston has completed the first round of the FUTURES Without Violence Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) curriculum, a comprehensive violence prevention program for middle school and high school aged boys. SWB implemented this program with support from a Youth Development Violence Prevention grant from the City of Boston and will continue to teach the curriculum in the coming months.
Led by Senior Program Coordinator Ye-Htet Soe and Director Bruno Contreras, SWB Boston engaged 91 male participants in the 10-week long CBIM program, tailoring sessions to best fit the needs of either middle school or high school aged boys. CBIM inspires athletic coaches to teach their young athletes that violence never equals strength and that violence against women and girls is wrong. Some of the many topics included: personal responsibility, relationship abuse, insulting language, modeling respect and promoting equity, and understanding consent.
“There were some topics that kids felt more engaged in, for example, defining healthy relationships,” said Contreras. “For middle school boys, we included family and friends, while the high school boys had a lot of questions about dating and relationships with girls.”
The CBIM curriculum aligns with Soccer Without Borders’ priorities for creating safe spaces and providing meaningful mentorship opportunities for participants. Many participants have shared that they do not have a role model whom they can approach with questions about relationships. Research shows that mentoring relationships of 12 months or more — which SWB provides — can have a significant impact on academic outcomes and psychosocial development. Participant feedback indicates that the CBIM curriculum is accessible and relevant to their experiences, and provides a space where they can learn and express themselves.
“The most important thing that I take from these circles is that I’m more aware that my words have an impact on the other people, but also, my silence. It challenges me to stand up for somebody who is being verbally abused.” - Youth participant, 17-years old
Contreras also cited the importance of male participants experiencing the powerful culture of SWB Boston’s girls’ programs, including playing in co-ed scrimmages. “We push for girls’ equality and the boys see in theory, but also in practice, how they can support women and be allies.”
“I don’t know why I used to say you’re playing like a girl to my friends as an insult; it doesn’t make sense. I have played with the girls of SWB and they’re so good.” - Youth participant, 13-years old
In addition to training its own staff and volunteers on CBIM curriculum, Soccer Without Borders engaged its community by offering training to coaches and staff from other youth development organizations including: Boston Scores, YMCA Boston, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Jewish Family Services, and Paris Street Community Center, which impacted approximately 400 additional youth.