KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A mentoring program in East Tennessee is on a mission to stop violence against women and girls. YWCA GameChangers is the only gender-based violence prevention program for middle school boys in the area.
“Just teaching them the elements of love, respect, and teaching them how to admire women. It not only betters yourself, but it will help your generation if you go on to have kids and you can pour into your son and your daughters to let them know how they need to be treated,” said Kendrick Tate, GameChangers Senior Mentor Coordinator.
Adult male mentors are paired with small groups of middle school boys to teach them about healthy and unhealthy relationships, violence in relationships, and more.
“We talk about some really hot-button sensitive issues when we get in these groups so a big part of that is facilitating trust with these kids. When you get in there they can immediately tell if you’re genuine or upfront or just honest or your heart’s really in it,” said Paul Davis, GameChangers Mentor Recruitment Coordinator.
Groups meet for an hour once a week for 14 weeks. During that time, they focus on difficult topics not often discussed, such as healthy masculinity and victim blaming.
“Now they’re starting to think about ‘like yeah that rape joke, I see why it’s not funny’ or you know making fun of or putting women down only to build yourself up now I see the importance of why that’s in a negative light,” said Tate.
GameChangers partners with schools, after-school programs, and community organizations to provide boys and young men with role models who can teach them how to build positive relationships.
“That is why I feel so honored to be a part of this program because I don’t really know of or see a lot of places and spaces that this happening where there’s a young man or boy and a man having these conversations,” said Rachel Baker, GameChangers Program Coordinator.
The YWCA is about empowering women by educating boys about the prevention of violence against women, it helps stop the cycle before it starts.
“If you want to be a part of something good, please come be a GameChanger because you can’t change the game from the sidelines you’ve got to get involved,” said Tate.
If you feel like you can make a difference and you want to be a mentor, visit https://ywcagamechangers.com/be-a-mentor/ for more information.