Boyz 2 Men began in 2009 after Christopher C. Murray, a school counsellor at John Gray High School, observed the struggle that boys in Years 8-11 were going through trying to become men. These boys, and in particular those without fathers, were invariably seeking role models in the wrong places and beginning to make poor life choices.
Murray identified those who he felt were at risk and, in an attempt to bring positive male role models into these boys’ lives, Murray reached out to Simon Miller from the National Drug Council and the Royal Cayman Islands Police to support his group, along with members of the community.
Boyz 2 Men aims to mould at-risk boys into kind, gentle and forgiving men and, from the very outset, there was a mutual understanding that for the programme to succeed there needed to be complete honesty. One key way this has been enacted within the group is through the men sharing stories of their personal struggles on the path to adulthood. This approach allows the boys to learn from real experience, whilst also forging relationships with mentors that are built on trust and respect. The boys are also encouraged to seek and receive guidance from their mentors, which empowers them to make better decisions about their future. Early on the results began to show: the boys became more positive and their behaviour improved significantly.
Fast forward thirteen years and the group is still going strong. It has become so popular that they receive over 100 applicants per year, and as early as Year 8 boys begin petitioning to be accepted into the Year 11 group!
35 boys from Year 11 joined this year, and, like previous years, they meet once or twice a week and do projects on weekends. Although the activities that they do range from fishing trips to charity work, each one presents a unique opportunity for the boys to learn, develop and build confidence. For example, they often go as a group to paint and repair elderly people’s houses, in which they gain perspective, learn to work as team towards a common goal and discover the personal rewards of giving back to the community.
The boys have also been to the Ritz-Carlton hotel to be trained in social etiquette, and after their training they took their mothers to a fine dining restaurant to have dinner. With the programme’s big emphasis on family values and how to become a man who contributes to his family, this was the perfect way for the boys to demonstrate their development.
What is truly special is the programme’s ability to create genuine family-like bonds, which makes the boys feel comfortable enough to share their problems and trust and appreciate the advice they get in return. The boys then roll this model forward and the cycle of underachieving in the same families, generation after generation, is broken. This isn’t a band-aid, like many of life’s programmes; it’s digging in to the primary problem and fixing it from the root up.
What the programme has taught the team at John Gray High School is that regardless of the boys’ varied challenges (emotional, mental or behavioural), once they understand boundaries, start to develop bonds and know that someone truly cares, then the sky’s the limit.
In 2022 the Boyz 2 Men programme welcomed students from Clifton Hunter High School (CHHS) for the first time. A total of 40 boys from CHHS received their B2M neckties, symbolising their commitment to the programme, which assists and mentors at-risk young men.
Between the two high schools, 105 boys have enrolled for the 2021-22 school term, making it the largest group since the programme was founded.
There are plans to extend the programme to Layman Scott High School in Cayman Brac.
How to Get Involved
The Boyz 2 Men programme invites exemplary men in the community into the school to share their life experiences, while profiling their unique challenges when growing up.
During these sessions the boys are given the opportunity to question the men in detail as to how they overcame problems and achieved success in their lives.
If you would like to get involved please, email Christopher C. Murray on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on (345) 329 0021 or (345) 916 5559. They are always looking for positive role models!
If you don’t have the time to contribute, they are also looking for donations to fund the activities that they do – fishing, painting, etc. With the right funding, they would also love to expand the programme to other schools and year groups.