WATCH: Grow Boys gives Red Deer Grade 5 students a chance to learn more about themselves

Between the carpentry, skateboarding, 3D printing and swimming, Grade 5 boys learned a little more about themselves and the world they lived in on Wednesday.

Grow Boys, now in its eighth year, is an annual conference offered to every Grade 5 boy with about 80 volunteers from local high schools. Co-chair Sean Grainger said the conference centres around the message of hope.

“It’s about promoting the idea that kids need to be healthy, have opportunities, gain privileges in life and learn new things,” said Grainger.

On Wednesday, the G.H. Dawe Community Centre hosted hundreds of Grade 5 boys for a day of learning and activity Grainger said were “designed to nurture those concepts.”

The day featured two activity sessions, such as skateboarding, drumming or swimming; a tech or career planning session, such as carpentry, criminology or makerspace; and a mental health session.

“No matter the session, we’re trying to promote the idea of being respectful, developing understanding, working with other people and taking responsibility for your own fate,” said Grainger.

Last year was the first year that students who had been a part of Grow Boys as a Grade 5 student came back as a high school volunteer to help the younger students.

At lunch, students heard a talk from Phil Bota, a Red Deer climber who summitted Mount Everest in memory of his late father and to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He told students about his journey and the challenges he had to overcome.

“We’re touching on all the development issues boys and men are struggling with in the world,” said Grainger.

An important element of the ideas promoted at the event was getting the students out of their comfort zones, said co-chair Erika Pottage. The students were divided into groups with only three students from each of the participating schools.

“The reality is, boys, if they’re aware of what is offered in the community and involved in something active and healthy, you’re not doing something less than desirable,” said Grainger. “It’s about connecting the students with positive outlets.”

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