About the Taking Off the Mask Workshop

Taking Off The Mask: A workshop for young men with the courage to ‘get real’

Taking Off The Mask is a workshop for young men that takes them on a journey of  team building by looking beyond the characteristics that we allow people to see; THE MASK, and looks deeper to see those things that young men often hide, deny, repress or ignore; BEHIND THE MASK.

Our workshop is powerful for all youth. With students in Private Schools often being a part of a smaller community for multiple years, there is a community built that often is based on knowing each other for extended periods of time. Even though that knowing takes place over many years, unless deeper bonds have been created, those relationships are often surface level. For young men it is often based on the mask that each young man creates for himself.

We wish to offer this workshop to young men at all  types of schools including private, public and charter.  This workshop is offered to groups of about 30 young men, but larger groups can be accommodated in our planning sessions.  In terms of programming, we will meet with the young men for 2 to 2.5 hours and they will explore the following topics:

  • What does it mean to wear ‘The Mask’

  • How do you take off ‘The Mask’

  • Increasing self-awareness

  • Taking charge of their lives / Finding their inner voice

  • Becoming a part of a brotherhood


Background of Taking Off The Mask Workshop

Given the breakdown of our family units, the lack of trust among community members, the deterioration of healthy intergenerational relationships and guidance passed down by elders  and an absence of healthy rites of passage, we, Ashanti Branch and Lorenzo Cooper from The Ever Forward Club want to share our vision for an experiential workshop for creating safe, brave communities for youth. In our work, we focus on mentoring young men of color in middle and high school.

The Ever Forward Club believes that all young men have a desire to be fully alive in their human desire to be loved, respected, held in high regard, held to high expectations, held accountable for their actions and supported around their goals in life. But we have seen that in many middle and high schools their often exists a cohort of young men who do not pay attention to these needs in the regular school environment and in addition to not accepting the support that they need, they pretend as if they have it all worked out.

There needs to be a push forward to reach these young men. This workshop reaches those young men.

We plan to host a workshop for groups of  young men, who are ready for a deeper awareness of themselves and/or a shift in their lives.

There are many programs out there for young men who are already energized by school, but The Ever Forward Club was created to attract the:

  • Under-schooled - Young men who have very little to no experience being a part of the school community and are therefore academically, socially or emotionally behind their peers.

  • De-schooled - Young men who have been going to school regularly, but have become either disengaged, disillusioned or disenfranchised and therefore stopped attending or are only physically present.

  • Over-schooled - Young men who have gone to school for years but are more worn out by school, than energized by it.

Young men are often nominated by the school officials as a student who has a great deal of potential but demonstrates some barriers to achieving to his potential. Perhaps it is a young man who is in need of a breakthrough, a mentor or a wake-up call.