Promoting positive behaviors

Young Men in Action focuses on life skills

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Mentor Larry Keister and Hathaway fifth-grader Myckeal Parker enjoy a three-course meal at Columbia Ridge Senior Living during a real-life lesson in fine dining as part of the "Young Men in Action" program. (Contributed photo)

The annual Young Men in Action program is giving fifth-grade Hathaway Elementary School boys an opportunity to develop new life skills.

Sponsored and staffed by the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club, the Young Men in Action program strives to promote positive behaviors by giving boys an opportunity to interact with peers who are not in their circle of friends.

The program also focuses on development of life skills such as friendship, health, decision-making, hygiene, money management, careers and manners.

“The program helps to demonstrate to the boys that they have choices in how they react to others and to situations,” says Rotary member and mentor Blaine Peterson. “The mentors have had to make choices.

“We made the right ones for us and now we have fulfilling and successful lives, and they too have the opportunity to make the right choices for themselves.”

The boys and their male mentors meet for two hours weekly and concentrate on a different topic each week, for a total of seven weeks.

This year’s curriculum included a field trip to the a Camas-Washougal fire station, as well as in-classroom instruction and conversations about mature behavior and choices.

A companion program, Young Women in Action, takes place for female Hathaway fifth-graders.

“We are getting the chance to do things that we might not do until later in life,” says participant Evan Schipull. “We are getting a jump start on learning things and experiences.”

During a recent field trip to Columbia Ridge Senior Living in Washougal, the boys and mentors sat down to a three-course meal to practice dining etiquette and good manners.

“I really enjoy the interaction with the kids,” says mentor Larry Keister. “I am so impressed with their willingness to learn and their enthusiasm.”

Participant Jose Alvarez-Cruze’s favorite activity was going to the fire station.

“We are learning about how we choose to grow up and how to get to the place we want to be in life,” he says. “We are getting to experience real-life things now to help us prepare for the future.”