Father Chris Riley on why community outreach services are key to men’s health and well-being

International Men’s Health Week runs from 15 – 21 June 2015. Teaching young boys and men about drugs and alcohol and sexual health is a focus for Youth Off The Streets. Many parents view these topics as taboo, but we can’t just ignore potential dangers because they’re difficult to talk about.

I’ve seen many young men and boys at my organisation suffer ill health because they weren’t prepared for difficult situations that their environment throws at them regularly. It’s a core focus of Youth Off The Streets, we prepare young people for their future. We help them develop life skills so that they have the tools to unlock their full potential.

Our Aboriginal Services Team in South Eastern Sydney are working to teach young people, aged 12 and older, fundamental life skills that will help them in the years to come. I recently spoke with Jamie Ingram, a youth worker from the Outreach Service there and he said that they run through real life scenarios in order to prepare young people for the future.

“We work on real-life issues and acting out what to do in situations where you or someone else might be in trouble. We teach them about drugs and alcohol, sexual health and about basic living skills like cooking and paying bills. With the young ones especially, the focus is on prevention. We want to teach them these skills now for the future, when they come up against some of these things in the real world.”

This is something that parents everywhere can do with their kids. Drugs and alcohol and sexual health are often seen as taboo subjects, but it’s important to educate your kids about safe practice when engaging with drugs and alcohol and sex. Young people will be confronted with these things at some point, ignoring it will only put them in danger of doing something wrong. That’s what’s great about our Outreach services. We aren’t afraid to tackle the tough subjects and our young people are better off for it.

Young people, as they grow up, will be confronted with drugs and alcohol and other dangerous situations. Teaching them how to overcome difficult situations and what to do in certain scenarios is extremely important for their overall health. During Men’s Health Week, let’s help young men and boys unlock their full potential and live a healthy, happy life.

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