Being a student typically involves a variety of hardships, not all of which are academic. Unseen personal troubles can impact academics or athletics.
“It can affect the team on the court what someone is going through,” Crispus Attucks student and basketball player Jaden Tyson said.
To help address these concerns, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) introduced two programs this school year: Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) and Give an Hour. The programs initially seem different. CBIM is for high school male athletes, and Give an Hour is for fifth and sixth grade girls. However, both programs create a gender-specific community that tackle issues students face.
In CBIM, coaches discuss important issues, such as violence, domestic abuse and relationships, with male athletes at Arsenal Tech, George Washington, Shortridge and Crispus Attucks high schools twice a week. The sessions include time where students are able to share anything happening in their lives. The structure is relaxed and coaches can approach issues however they see fit.
“It helps for those uncomfortable conversations because I think with every kid or any kid there could be something going on at home, and if there’s a way for us to be able to initiate that conversation to get that student help or that parent help we can go from there,” Crispus Attucks basketball coach Chris Hawkins said.
CBIM also connects athletes with positive male role models. The coaches help boys learn lessons such as how to handle violence, communicate with confidence and treat women with respect.
“You have a lot of kids at one parent households or they’re going back and forth between mom and dad, so when you’re looking at consistency of a male figure within a female or male’s life, he may not be there,” Hawkins said.
Talking about tough subjects can also help students grow closer to their team.
“The teams that do feel they’re a family makes that person more comfortable because it’s not just about the one person when it comes to a team,” Tyson said. “It’s all about everybody. That person should feel like he should be able to talk with his teammates.”
In February, IPS implemented Give an Hour for fifth-graders at Meredith Nicholson School 96 and sixth-graders at Floro Torrence School 83. Once a week, girls meet during lunch, and instructors teach important lessons on topics such as self care, relationships and conflict resolution. Girls develop deep connections with each other.
“I feel like we can understand each other more since this program,” Miayae Coleman, a fifth-grader at Meredith Nicholson School 96, said. “We know people more because they say a lot of stuff that’s been on their mind.”
Pamelia Arias, a social worker at Meredith Nicholson School 96, thinks the program creates potential for good influences that will last through adulthood.
“It’s a lot easier to mold a young child than it is to try to fix a broken adult,” Arias said.
Arias and the girls taking Give an Hour also appreciate the female-only model. The mentors can relate with students because they were once fifth-grade girls.
“I feel more comfortable being here because we have all been in the situation,” Nelly Delaluz, a fifth-grader at Meredith Nicholson School 96, said. “We will one day grow up in the same situation. And I feel like the girls are like sometimes way better listeners than boys.”
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.