I discovered several more reasons to feel confident about the future. What I found were some well-grounded, caring young men sharing their thoughts and convictions about what they can do to change society’s often stereotyped views about women and girls. The voices were those of young men ages 14 and 15.
The fourth annual Voices of Men breakfast was the first time I’ve invited my two sons to join me. The three of us were joined by some of my fellow youth baseball coaches, teammates and their parents. My older son sat with a large group from the Appleton East High School DECA program.
Voices of Men has taken the important step of better engaging our community’s young men.
What I heard during our table discussion is that we have some fine young men among us. They are articulate and smart. They clearly know right from wrong and are prepared to make the right decisions … and to be good influences on their peers.
Changing long-held stereotypes is a long journey. Today I looked around the room and saw our younger generation well represented, joining us in this journey to make a real difference … for their mothers, sisters, teachers, girlfriends. And someday for their wives and daughters.
Make no mistake, growing up today is no picnic with all the media messages, pressures of living life in the fish bowl of social media and sometimes just growing up too fast. Sometimes it is important to stop for a few minutes for the important, teachable moments. And it feels so good when the message hits its mark and you know the future of these young people has a solid grounding.
I am proud of my boys – the two that share my last name and all of them I’ve been able to mentor and coach along the way. I am optimistic about the fine young men they have become and the difference they will make in our world.
Myself and hundreds of others at the breakfast have signed the Voices of Men pledge. Take the pledge of ending violence against women yourself.