WiseGuyz Program: The FAQs...
Updated: Aug 31, 2022
We are excited to have been granted, in partnership with the City of St Albert, a license to offer the WiseGuyz program in our service areas! WiseGuyz was developed by Calgary's Centre for Sexuality and has demonstrated outcomes in supporting male identifying youth develop the skills and knowledge to have healthy relationships & prevent adolescent dating violence.
Never heard of the program before? Not sure how it works? Interested in learning more? We've got some frequently asked questions listed below. Due to the level of interest in this program, we strongly recommend that you review all the info here and reflect on whether your school community would be open to the program requirements. If you want to schedule a meeting with your school education team to consider the possibilities, contact our Education Facilitator today.
What is WiseGuyz?
WiseGuyz is a healthy relationship, life skills program for male-identified individuals in grades 8 & 9. WiseGuyz is an evidence-informed participatory program designed to promote healthy relationships and prevent youth dating violence. The program provides a safe space for participants to reflect on the impacts of harmful gender stereotypes and build essential relationship skills. These skills aim to promote healthy sexuality and healthy relationship development while decreasing attitudes that contribute to homophobia, transphobia and gender-based violence.
Who is the program for?
WiseGuyz strategically targets boys who are between the ages of 13 – 15 because this is an important time of change as they transition to high school. This program is good for the high achievers who want more leadership opportunities as well as those who are struggling to make their way through life who are looking to improve. Importantly, WiseGuyz is a voluntary program which means that it's up to the youth whether they wish to participate. That's why we work extra hard to keep the program engaging and fun for all our participants.
Why just boys? Is there an equivalent girls' program offered?
There are some great programs focused just on girls & gender diverse young people (such as those identifying as non binary, two spirit, transgender, or queer) by a number of organizations including the YWCA. Currently, we don't have the rights to offer those programs in the communities we serve but we're happy to make referrals. And of course, we do continue to offer our less intensive SAiF education presentations to school groups on healthy relationships which can be delivered to gender specific groups if that feels more comfortable and safe for participants. Those are arranged by educators, coaches, schools, and youth group coordinators by contacting our Education Facilitator.
When is the program offered? Is it year round?
Currently, the program is offered through schools so is subject to the academic year. In order to have things prepared and participants registered appropriately for a 20+ week program, each group will start sometime in October and run to May of each year (with appropriate breaks for winter, spring, etc.)
What's the length of the program/time commitment?
Each group runs ~75-90 minutes for a total of 20-22 weeks. Groups will partly run through class time once a week.
Will participants miss class time?
Because the Wise Guyz curriculum runs longer than a class block, it will cut into some class time. Fortunately, the class schedule rotates and so students will not miss parts of the same class. Of course, students are allowed to miss sessions of the group if they need to prioritize their schoolwork. We are committed to helping support the success of our participants and part of the desired outcomes of the program is to improve mental health and increase school engagement.
How much does the program cost?
Thanks to a wonderful array of funders, including the City of St Albert, Sturgeon County and Parkland County, we're able to offer this program FREE of charge to schools in our service areas.
What does the program curriculum cover?
The program consists of 4 modules:
Module 1 – Healthy Relationships focuses on supporting participants develop skills to build healthy & respectful relationships. Participants learn about personal & relational boundaries, consent, coping skills, & effective ways to express emotion & resolve conflict.
Module 2 – Sexual Health focuses on increasing participants’ understating of their own sexual & reproductive health. Participants learn about healthy sexuality, how bodies change during puberty & to make informed decisions about their own sexual health. Participants explore what sexual consent is & learn Canadian laws on ages of consent for young people.
Module 3 – Gender, Sexuality, & the Media focuses on challenging harmful and limiting representations of gender. Participants will learn the differences between sex and gender and will be encouraged to examine and deconstruct harmful gender norms and stereotypes that are portrayed in the media.
Module 4 – Human Rights, Advocacy, & Allyship focuses on encouraging participants to discuss concepts of equity & justice on a broader social scale, & explore how stereotypes & prejudices can have an impact on people’s opportunities. Participants discuss ways in which they can stand up for the rights of those experiencing oppression. This can range from being an active bystander in their daily lives, to advocacy & engagement on broader social issues.
As a parent, what if I'm not comfortable with some of the WiseGuyz curriculum? Can my child not participate in modules I'm not comfortable with?
The WiseGuyz program has been developed over several years to address some of the challenges that adolescent boys face with regards to navigating male norms, gender-based violence, reaching out for support as well as adopting healthy and safe sexual practices. All the modules work together to reinforce positive masculinity, healthy relationships and address attitudes that can be harmful to our own well-being as well as others'. It's important that participants have an opportunity to review the entire curriculum in order for the best outcomes.
We understand some parents' hesitation and concerns and can host a parents' meeting for schools interested in the program to walk through the curriculum so parents have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about what their child(ren) would be learning through the program. This is best set up with schools once they've gone through the process of indicating their interest and an assessment of their ability to accommodate the program in a given school year.
Is this program counselling/therapy?
No, this program is not therapy. While there are many topics covered that will help promote mental wellness, this is strictly education, not treatment. We would refer out any mental health concerns that may arise during the program to appropriate community supports.
How do I sign up my child for the program?
Students eligible to participate are based on the school they attend & whether that school has agreed to offer the program. If you're interested in having the program offered in your child's school, please read on...
How can a school sign up for the program?
We can provide this program in junior high schools within our funded service areas. If you are a principal or vice principal in a school located within our service area, please contact us directly. We can walk you through the steps we need to take to get educators, school boards, and parents on board. This does take some time so we strongly encourage any school that's interested to contact us as soon as possible with the understanding that we may not be able to offer the program until the following academic year.
How do you know whether the program works?
This program is supported by the research conducted by Hope Lab out of the University of Calgary. The research component in this program is used to investigate the outcomes of the program to eventually make it an empirically supported program. In other words, the research is to check and ensure that the program has the best chance to improve the lives of the participants over time. The program has been offered for a number of years already with some outcomes that have been gathered to date, summarized here: https://www.hopelab.ca/healthy-relationships-mental-health-promotion-1
If you are interested in having WiseGuyz in your school & think there's a fit based on what you've read here, please contact our SAiF Education Facilitator for more information.