Workshop targets ‘toxic masculinity’ in team sports

The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Center offers free workshops to local sports teams to promote healthy masculinity and gender-based safety. From left, Male Ally Coalition member Brian White, Public Education Coordinator Trish Vanoosterom, and center Cheyenne Guthro. Photo submitted

Tara Jeffrey
Trish Vanoosterom hopes local sports teams will participate in a new workshop that promotes healthy masculinity and gender safety.
From an early age, boys are bombarded with toxic messages about masculinity about “how to be a man,” said the public education coordinator at the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Center Sarnia-Lambton.
“This program provides players with healthy counter-narratives of masculinity, while encouraging them to reflect on how their words and actions can demonstrate respect for women and girls and create safe spaces for all athletes. “
The free one-hour workshop is run in partnership with the agency’s Male Ally Coalition and includes interactive activities aimed at challenging unhealthy narratives in sport.
The workshop is similar to the Ontario Hockey League’s “Onside” program and tailored to local men’s sports teams with players ages 12 and up.
Vanoosterom pointed to a recent study that found 47% of high school students had experienced “hazing,” which can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders. .
Men are also much less likely to report victimization and less likely to seek help, she added.
“You can become leaders in your community by standing up,” she said. “And call out everyday attitudes and behaviors that contribute to a lack of respect for women.”
For more information or to book a team session, contact Trish at [email protected] or call 519-337-3154, ext. 203.

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