Equip is a six-month group-work programme, which meets weekly during term-time, either during school hours or in the evening in the community. It aims to help boys develop resilience through male-led group mentoring, to enable them to cope with problems and issues faced at home and school, and explore the important choices they face in their adolescent development, to prevent escalation of negative behaviour.
All sessions are facilitated by a trained Lads Need Dads facilitator and supported by a team of trained male volunteer mentors. The weekly sessions cover a range of topics and are tailored to the needs of the group. Topics may include for example; anger and emotions, managing conflict, risk taking and consequences, managing stress, etc.
Equip always starts with a check-in, where boys are encouraged to express and identify their emotions. Some boys are often referred due to struggling with anger and need help and support understanding ways to resolve conflict. A key part of Equip is to teach the boys, through guided conversation and groupwork exercises, how to manage and regulate their emotions more skilfully, develop their relational and communication skills, internal discipline and emotional intelligence.
There are few places for boys to let down their guard and relate openly and honestly with others of the same gender. Group mentoring provides boys with encouragement, support, a platform to share and hear from a range of men and their peers, giving testimony to their struggles and achievements, be inspired, challenged and heard.
Many of the problems boys face stem from difficulties they have relating to others. Group mentoring has been found to help youths better understand social processes and give them a safe context in which to develop their social skills in relating to peers.
Group mentoring reduces the risk of over-attachment (as can often happen in one to one mentoring and the subsequent sense of loss once contact has ended).
Studies have also found group mentoring appears to strengthen mentees’ ties with other important adults, such as parents and teachers.
Bush-craft survival & outdoor activities
The ages of 11-15 are significant for boys due to the developmental journey, both their brains and bodies undertake. The sense of risk and adventure grows at this age and the need to be physically and mentally tested and challenged increases.
Boys, on average, are more physically active and aggressive than girls. They need to be given opportunities to be physically expressive.
With the increased interest in technology and on-line gaming boys are having less opportunities to be physically active or engage with the outdoors.
The bush-craft survival training and outdoor activities take place alongside the Equip Programme during school holidays and benefit the boys by helping foster the innate sense of risk and adventure helping boys to grow more confident, motivated and responsible and increase team building skills.