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Chicago teen program aims to challenge male stereotypes

December 16, 2017

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago program is aiming to redefine stereotypical images of masculinity in hopes of combatting violence.

“What’s Up With Manhood?” was created for male teenagers by the nonprofit Options for Youth, the Chicago Tribune reported. Organizers say they hope to promote healthy relationships and choices, and instill a sense of responsibility.

Nonprofit President Pat Mosena said violence is a big problem for some of the city’s teens.

“The topic they talked most about was violence — at school, on the street and at home,” she said. “So we tried to find a way to help them.”

She said the program shows male teens that being the tough guy who doesn’t communicate or show emotion isn’t the only way to “be a man.”

“For a lot of young men, they have this certain view of what it means to be a man,” said program coordinator Luciano Medellin, who grew up in Chicago. “You have to have this certain image to survive.”

The program is being piloted with about 30 freshman and sophomores at World Language Academy in the Little Village neighborhood on the city’s west side. It forms part of a city-funded mentoring program within the school.

Sophomore Moises Rueda, 15, said the program is pushing him and his peers to find their path.

“Now, it’s not about what other people think, but what I think about what a man is.”

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