July 28, 2017
A group of athletic coaches from Birmingham City Schools recently participated in a workshop to learn how they can help their players learn to respect women and have healthy relationships.
Annetta Nunn, community outreach coordinator for YWCA Central Alabama, led the “Coaching Boys Into Men” workshop, a program of Futures Without Violence. The California-based nonprofit works to end violence against women, children and families around the world.
“Coaches can be very influential in the lives of their players, and sometimes they are mentors for the athletes long after they’re grown,” Nunn said. “Members of the coaching staff can help influence how these young men behave on and off the field.”
Teen dating violence is a widespread issue with serious long-term effects. Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18. Among high school students who have dated, 21 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys have experienced physical and/or sexual violence, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Coaches from Carver, Huffman, Jackson-Olin, Woodlawn and Wenonah high schools and Washington K-8 participated in the training, which was sponsored by Verizon Wireless, and other schools have requested it. “I’m excited about this,” said Henry Pope, director of athletics for Birmingham City Schools.
“We have young men in our district who don’t have the strong leadership they need at home,” he said. “We have to teach more than just X’s and O’s. We have to help them become the young men we want them to be – community leaders.”
Aubrey Bennett, athletic director at Carver High School, said the program will be one more tool the coaches can use to help their players with character development. “We already have Character Wednesdays at Carver and this will be a great piece for my coaching staff,” he said. “We want to help develop our players into young men and prepare them for the real world.”
Nunn said that since many athletes are leaders in their schools, the program has the opportunity to impact the whole student body. “The coaches are already stressing the importance of being a leader and showing respect, and we want them to encourage their players to serve as role models for their peers,” she said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to spread the word that violence has no place in relationships.”
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