By Cindy Lam –
Nepean High School offers a variety of clubs to engage students with a diverse array of interests. One of the newest clubs that has sparked an interest among male students at Nepean is the Man Up Club. Run by a few teachers at school, the club consists of young men from different grades with the same goal: to help define what it means to be a man of character in high school while also opposing bullying, sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination.
The concept of Man Up started at Longfields Davidson High School. Last year the school hosted an event with guest speakers who spoke about bullying, violence towards women, and sexual harassment.
One of the members of the club is Nicholas Cooke, a senior student who has been involved in the group since the end of the last school year. Nicholas was initially approached by a guidance counsellor to attend the Man Up workshop at LDHS, and thought that it was a fantastic idea. After the workshop, he and nine other students decided to start their own Man Up Club at Nepean.
Nepean’s Man Up Club consists of boys from different grades. This gives the students an opportunity to voice their opinions and age-related concerns, and as well gives the younger students a role model to look up to.
“I joined because I strongly support the same values as Man Up,” says Nicholas.
For Nicholas, Man Up is about more than just a high school club; it is a state of mind that starts in high school and continues throughout life. He says it has helped him become more aware of his actions, and has given him the confidence to stand up for what he believes.
The club’s goal is to get young men to realize that all actions have consequences and to sow seeds of change. In doing so, they plan to make high school a safer environment for everyone.
Man Up consists of a good number of grade eleven and ten students, which assures Nicholas the club’s legacy will carry on in the future, well after he graduates.
The club has exciting events in store for this school year. They held their first “Man Up Feast” at the end of November for all the students that helped raise funds for Movember. The event included a guest speaker to talk about sexual harassment and consent. The group is planning an event for the White Ribbon campaign which works towards ending men’s violence against women and a ball hockey tournament at the end of the year coupled with an “Only Yes Means Yes” workshop.
Under supervision of teachers at Nepean, the students have a safe opportunity to share their ideas and concerns.
“It is a special thing to be able to meet a group of teenage boys who are truly committed to making a change within the school,” says Tyler Wallace, one of the teacher organizers of Man Up.
“Our exec is made up from such a diverse group: hockey guys, theatre production guys, football guys, music guys, outdoor guys… I feel privileged to work with this group. I hope that they will lay the ground work for Man Up to be a driving force within NHS.”
With such a broad spectrum of new ideas and positive messages, Man Up is bound to spread awareness and move Nepean forward as a school.
Cindy Lam is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.
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