By Win Wachsmann. In a perfect world all boys would have
Positive mentors, and
But our world isn’t perfect.
As a result, boys and young men everywhere are succumbing to the lure of crime and the street.
This past week hundreds of Abby students from Mouat and other schools watched the authentic, raw and deeply personal struggle of youth stuck in a downward spiral of hopelessness and despair in the stage play Man Up!
Hosted by Jay Pankratz, Principal of W. J. Mouat and supported by Abbotsford School Superintendent Kevin Godden, Assistant Superintendent Gino Biondi and the Abbotsford Police Department, Man Up! was presented to the public on Thursday night at W. J. Mouat Secondary School in Abbotsford.
The drama opened with a soulful solo by legendary Vancouver bluesman Wes Mackey
Presented on a sparse stage with pictures of East Vancouver in the background, this edgy drama tells the story of four young men from Templeton Secondary School in East Vancouver struggling with their personal demons and the impact of an uncaring society.
The writer, Peter Grasso, himself a graduate of Templeton, a professional actor and a cast member, pulls no punches and shows us, graphic language and all, how frustrating it is to be a young man in East Vancouver.
Man Up! is based on the true story of the founding of the Boys Club Network in East Vancouver in 2006.
Jim Crescenzo, Fine Arts Department Head, and Walter Mustapich, Secondary School Administrator at Templeton Secondary School, saw the need to help at risk boys break out of the endless cycle of poverty, drugs and addiction. Over and over they saw boys and young men lose their innocence, happiness and basic human potential to aimlessness, hopelessness and crime.
They saw the need for positive role models and together with founding patrons, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and legendary investor and founder of Lionsgate Films Frank Giustra, the Boys Club Network was founded in 2006.
The Boys Club Network is based on the foundational principles of mentorship, connectedness, trust and accountability. Using the proven curriculum of H. O. P. E. – Hope, Opportunity, Positive mentorship and Education, they are partnering with parents, youth workers and other stakeholders to offer HOPE for the future.
For seventeen years they have held after-school meetings, gone on field trips and attended summer camps. They have also been able to offer post-secondary scholarships.
Four of the six actors, Peter Grasso, Jonathan Mubanda, Dzinh Nguyen and Daniel Degtiarev are graduates of Templeton Secondary School and have been involved with or seen first hand the positive impact of the Boys Club Network.
The Thursday night audience was made up of dignitaries, friends of Aldergrove native Frank Giustra and a contingent of about 20 young men from Templeton currently involved in Boys Club.
Cactus Club founder Richard Jaffray and award winning Chef Rob Feenie are avid supporters and were on hand to lend support.
Jim Crescenzo (L), Walter Mustapich,
To date, thanks to the vision and commitment of Francesco Aquilini and Frank Giustra, over 12,000 young people have seen and been impacted positively by Man Up!
Since 2006, they have opened chapters in North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Kamloops.
Their visit to Abbotsford signals the expansion the Boys Club Network to Abbotsford.
In 2015, thanks to a grant from the Canucks for Kids Fund and UFC, they plan to open chapters in Kelowna and the Kootenays.