By Christopher Tobutt
Deshane Vousden, 15, was proud to be one of the new Boyz 2 Men group: “I wanted to start this programme to be a better person and to achieve the goals I want in life,” he said. “I was a bad kid when I was younger and I used to get in a lot of fights. Then I came to John Gray and I started having meetings with Mr. Murray, who showed me that I can do better, and I could achieve anything I want in life.”
Deshane was one of 40 young men who have joined the group, led by Director and founder Christopher Murray, a school counsellor. The group meets once a week at John Gray High School where different speakers and mentors from the world of business and the professions are invited to encourage the teenagers by giving them real-life advice about how to be truly successful in the adult world. “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.”
Boyz 2 Men has gone from strength to strength since it began around ten years ago. Part of the rules of the group are that the young men have to dress smartly when they go to school and wear a tie, which has become incorporated into the inauguration ceremony. “I do not mind wearing a tie; you have to be different. This is going to help me to respect myself, to respect others, and to show others how to show respect to people. So I am setting an example for people to follow,” Deshane said. One of Deshane’s friends, 15-year-old Nathan Garricks , decided it was time to start on the road to manhood, too: “Boyz 2 Men can really help you in the future. It can teach you how to be a leader, and how to listen to people, and how to follow instructions,” he said.
Kenneth Bryan MLA for George Town Central was with the boys on their first day: “This programme is about preparing them for the right characteristics they will need when they will be ready to be out in the big bad world. Boys 2 Men’s intention is giving them all those skill sets and tools they need to understand how to be strong men. A programme like this is very essential for the development of our young men in Cayman so I am proud to be a part of it.”
All kinds of people from the community step in to help, and the group has generated much good will since it began. One of the first things that the boys in the new cohort will do is visit the Ritz Carlton Hotel for a day, finding out all about etiquette, and how to behave like a real gentleman at a formal dinner, for example. Lincoln Robinson also takes the boys on so that they can earn some money during their summer holidays, in the H&A Group, a janitorial and construction company. The boys learn the self-esteem of earning their own money, while learning some useful skills too, Mr. Robinson said.