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Back to school

30 Sep 2016

Back to school

The Being ManKind mission revolves around the central principle that for every book we sell, another copy is donated to a school or youth organisation. With the launch event feeling like a distant memory, the next major task has been to plan the best way of getting the stories read and discussed by young people. For schools, we began with the traditional approach of developing educational lesson plans to accompany the books that will be donated. Each session uses a story from the book to focus on an important topic – e.g. mental health, identity, body image – and form a structured discussion around the issues raised, with suggestions for activities to extend the learning. We aim for these sessions to take place during PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) classes. Currently, this is a non-statutory subject, and while the national curriculum states that all schools ‘should make provision for PSHE’, the delivery varies widely. We hope that we can help bring these essential topics to the forefront.  

Last week, we met with Jashu Vekaria (Deputy Head, Uxendon Manor Primary School), who will be working with us to develop and pilot Being ManKind educational plans for Year 6 students as they transition to secondary school. We are also incredibly fortunate to have on board Sarah Murray from Parmiter’s School, and Gemma Curtis from Diversity Role Models to aid the development of plans for older students (aged 11 to 16 years), which are due to be piloted early next year. Once the plans have been finalised, they will be available to download from our website for all to access.

In parallel with lesson plan development, we have continued to make connections with inspiring individuals who are doing incredible work for the benefit of young people around the UK. We are truly excited to grow our community of support, and welcome among others Jonny Benjamin (Finding Mike: The Stranger on the Bridge), Steve Mallen (The MindEd Trust), and Tracy Heard (Men’s Health Forum). While we are holding off on book donations until the lesson plans have been piloted, books have already been posted to other organisations who run sessions with young people and we look forward to hearing their feedback in due course.

We have also been racking our brains to find the best way of determining how Being ManKind stories are being received by our readers. We have been in full creative flow and have proposed to include a feedback page on our website where readers can write and submit their personal response to each story writer. The respondent can choose to remain anonymous, and also indicate if they are happy for their response to be published online. Using this approach, the writers will learn how their story has influenced readers, while the readers themselves can benefit from sharing their own experiences. This idea will also be suggested as a self-reflection exercise for students to undertake at the end of each Being ManKind session. Session leaders will remind students that their writing will not be marked, and their response can be anything from a few words on their immediate reaction to the story, to a whole essay inspired by the material. We will have this page up and running before Christmas, so get ready to start writing and submit your response to your favourite story.

In the coming weeks, we are building our campaign to raise funds through Kickstarter. Having built up a network of support for Being ManKind, we will be calling on our friends and colleagues to use their social media streams to spread our campaign far and wide. We want to keep building on what we have achieved by growing the team, creating a digital platform to more effectively reach young people, and continue to collate stories for the next volume! We will keep you updated on the kick off date and progress with our campaign soon.

Thank you to the Being ManKind community for the pledge of support for the Kickstarter, and a massive congratulations to Jashu Vekaria who has recently been awarded the Pearson Award for Teacher of the Year in a primary school (Uxendon Manor Primary school, Kenton).

The Being ManKind team

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