“Our male youth are in trouble,” says Dennis Barbour, CEO of The Boy’s Initiative. “Their school dropout rates are climbing and they are dropping out of college more than ever. They are failing to adjust to a rapidly changing economy.” Harsh words from a man who really cares about where America’s youth are headed.
Where ARE We Headed?
Dennis Barbour has been involved in the healthcare field for the whole of his career. All along, he has been dismayed that medical care is not more inclusive of the health needs of men: “Cause or effect, the fact is that men and boys are dismal at taking care of themselves. On the whole, they simply do not seek health care unless pushed to do so by pain, life-threatening issues, or their partners”.
Times Are A’ Changing
Despite the heavy tone, he is encouraged. “In recent years there has been heightened discussion, and interest, in men’s health in ways that go way beyond perfect abs and great sex.”
This attitude correction came after an epiphany of sorts: “I realized that the best way to address male health is to start early – literally – by focusing on males in their early years, as they leave the pediatrician’s office, but before lifelong unhealthy patterns are established.” Well, Dennis, as someone eternally interested in the reproductive health of young men and co-founder of Banking on the Future, I wholeheartedly agree!
The Boys Initiative was started as a forum for information exchange and dialogue among and about boys and men. “We try to identify the most pressing issues and the most promising solutions that affect boys and young men. We help organize those who can contribute to change, and we facilitate collaborative solutions.”
The group has gone granular quickly. They have raised awareness about the availability of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for adolescent boys as well as girls. “We’re also developing practical tools to engage and inform clinicians around the country about the relevant issues in male adolescent health. The support we’re getting is fantastic!”
So, Dennis really is an optimist: “We’re psyched to be promoting healthy living and healthy outcomes so early in life and to be getting the responses that we are. The movement has begun!” For more information, go to: www.BoysInitiative.org. Better yet, make a donation!