Redefining Masculinity!

Redefining Masculinity!

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Ben Mincks is most famous in Missoula for being Cooper’s seeing eye human, but here at NCBI Missoula, up until this summer, he has been our longest serving VISTA Americorps member. After three years of VISTA, Ben made the leap this summer to become NCBI’s Program Specialist for Youth and Volunteer Coordination.

About this transition Ben says, “I feel a real sense of accomplishment because the goal of the VISTA program is to build capacity within organizations so that they can create positions that are needed. We were able to do that here at NCBI.”

One of the big areas he is excited to keep working on is NCBI’s all boys, after-school club called Boys Respecting All Diversities (B-RAD). In his second year as a VISTA member, Ben was interested in how to better engage young men around social justice issues with a special concern related to sexual assault. He began talking with Brian Christiansen, the Flagship Coordinator at Hawthorne Elementary School, about these issues and an idea for an all boys after-school club emerged. NCBI’s Director of Youth Programs, Kim Spurzem, and Executive Director, Heidi Wallace, loved the idea and they decided to pilot B-RAD at Hawthorne the next year.

After a successful first year Ben began working with CS Porter Middle School to expand B-RAD to their after school programs. Between Hawthorne and CS Porter there are 14 youth participating in B-RAD this year.

Ben is also helping NCBI bring the conversation about men and masculinity into the wider community as well. On November 9th, Ben helped coordinate NCBI’s partnership with the Missoula County – City Relationship Violence Services, Planned Parenthood Missoula, the Center for Emotional Education, Not in Our State and the Western Montana Community Center to premiere The Mask You Live In.  

The Mask You Live In is an award winning documentary produced by The Representation Project and “follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.” Over 120 people participated in the community premiere at the new Silver Theater that also featured discussion of masculinity in Missoula after the film.

Talking about our ongoing partnership Kelly McGuire, Healthy Relationships Project Coordinator for the Missoula County – City Relationship Services said, “Our organization has partnered with NCBI Missoula for years and we were very excited to partner with Ben to bring The Mask You Live In to Missoula. Our culture’s definition of masculinity has a huge impact on our boys and that’s something that we often don’t talk about. We talk about the impact of violence on women – but what about men? I am thrilled that B-RAD is expanding to multiple schools and I hope that this conversation about healthy masculinity continues to grow and flourish.”

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