'Reading N' Reasoning'
Flow, BKR Collective partner for International Men's Day project
Upper school boys from Hope Valley Experimental School being led by BKR founder Joel Nomdarkham, to a race off between the facilitators and the boys.

SOCIAL change group BKR Collective and Flow partnered on International Men's Day 2022 to host a 'Reading N' Reasoning' session which positively impacted 100 boys at Hope Valley Experimental and Jessie Ripoll Primary schools in Kingston.

The initiative, held over two days and led by senior team members at Flow, aimed at using positive male role models to promote literacy and personal development at the early stages of a boy's life so as to help prepare him for his journey to manhood.

Boys from grades one to two participated in the reading session while the grades three to six boys were engaged in discussion around conflict resolution, personal development, career and family relationships.

Each boy also received a book, further encouraging him to make reading a habit.

Principals at both Jessie Ripoll and Hope Valley Experimental lauded the initiative for its focus on literacy and conversations as enablers for healthy manhood.

"Initiatives like these develop confidence in our boys, and we want our young men to understand that they are leaders and there's a way how you express yourself. These experiences through literature will develop their ability to be confident and true leaders," said O'Neil Stevens, principal of Jessie Ripoll Primary School.

Principal of Hope Valley Experimental, Anthony Grant added that the initiative complements the reading-focused approach the school has embraced towards overall learning.

"It's important for boys to understand from an early age that reading is the window to knowledge," Grant added. "Hope Valley Experimental has been putting a lot of emphasis on reading this school term because if you can't read how can you pick up a science book to learn science? So, this initiative is very timely for us."

International Men's Day is observed worldwide annually on November 19 and focuses on the value of men in society, positive role models, as well as men's well-being. The theme for 2022 is 'Helping Men and Boys'.

Flow's Vice-President and General Manager Stephen Price noted that: "International Men's Day is about celebrating the positive values men bring to the society. At Flow we wanted to demonstrate this by having men in our business personally interacting with boys and helping to shape their mindset about what manhood is."

"We believe our boys can benefit from more positive role models in society, and reading with and discussing tough topics with them is one way we can help them to better understand their life experiences."

The Reading N' Reasoning session allowed for the boys to share their aspirations and for the facilitators to see the world through their eyes. The sessions were engaging, insightful and impactful.

Joel Nomdarkam, founder of BKR Collective, said he was inspired to conceptualise the project after discovering the benefits of reading for himself later in life.

"I started reading consistently only a few years ago and it totally transformed my life, and I believe if we get boys to start reading more we can better prepare them for what the world will require of them as responsible men," Nomdarkam stated.

From the collaboration, BKR Collective captured and created digital content of the Reading N' Reasoning sessions. The full video can be found on Flow Jamaica's YouTube and Facebook platforms.

Group photo with the members of BKR Collective, Flow and the students from Jessie Ripoll Primary School.
Public relations manager at Flow, LeVaughn Flynn, leading a story time with 25 boys from grades one and two.
Upper school boys from Jessie Ripoll Primary School checking out each other's newly gifted books.

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