By Christopher Tobutt
Boyz 2 Men is a group of young men who take pride in their appearance, as a way of cultivating respect for oneself as well as respect for everyone else. In short, it takes teenage boys and makes them into young gentlemen. The group was begun by school counsellor Chrisopher Murray, more than ten years ago and every year more and more young men, students at John Gray High School, seem to want to join up. They see a positive change in their classmates who join, and they want to be part of it. That is when they have their special black tie ceremony at the JGHS assembly.
“The aim of the programme is to assist our young men to find the best choices in life, and to also assist them to get some guidance so that they can make informed decisions for their future, and also to help them to have a higher self-esteem and sense of self-worth,” Mr. Murray said. “We seek to provide positive opportunities for them where they can be exposed to positive experiences, and for those who might not have a father figure we seek to try and provide that type of atmosphere for them as well.”
It was a very special occasion, and there were several MLAs present, many of whom regularly support the group, either in person or financially, including MLA David Wight, who provides the money to purchase the special black ties for the ceremony. MLAs Hon. Barbara Connolly and Kenneth Bryan were also present, and Dr. Tomlinson who has also supported the programme for many years was there too.
“I am honored to be here this morning to give a short address to this great group of young men,” Mr. Wight said. Recalling a meeting with mentors of the group Seaford Russell, Simon Miller and Ivan McLean, he said, “We talked about was the Earth-Day clean up, and you told us that we may get ten or twelve young men to volunteer at Smith Barcadere, and I was totally shocked because we got three times that amount,” he said.
Then it was time for the ceremonial tying of the special black Boyz 2 Men ties, which have come to signify self-respect and respect for others, which is really at the heart of the group. All the boys, more than 40 of them this year, stood up so that they could have their tie tied by one of the adults who support the group, and so begin their first step into manhood. “I feel very proud,” one of them remarked.
Deshane Vousden, 16 joined the group a year ago, and has been through all the stages of the course which includes instruction in etiquette, and how to conduct oneself like a prince or a king, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. It also involves regular talks from successful businessmen in the community, who are there to mentor the young men and give them advice about how to be successful in life. Now, a year later, he feels that Boyz 2 Men really transformed him. “The programme turned me from being a boy into a man because it teaches you things that nobody else is going to sit down and tell you about,” he said. “Before I began I w was a very troubled young man, and the way that Mr. Mark (one of the mentors on the programme) talked to me, he made me look into myself and told me that I cannot continue to behave like this. So it pushed me to have that drive to be a different person and to be respectful everywhere I go, and have some discipline with me. I think it has had benefits with relationships with other people because it helped me to get along well with my parents and with other people because everywhere you go, you have to have respect, right? Respect carries you a long way.”