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Program Takes Flight

15th April 2014. Reading Time: 2 minutes Media, Programs for Schools. 807 page views.

Students from Fountain Gate and Endeavour Hills took to the skies last month as a reward for graduating from the Heavy METAL program, which is aimed at getting teenage boys to better understand their emotions.

DAVID Nugent knows firsthand the devastating effects of family violence.

Faced with the reality of losing his family, David took the tough steps of admitting he had a problem and asked for help.

Today, the qualified psychotherapist is helping young boys to better manage their emotions in the hope they will not make the same mistakes.

"I used to work with men around the issue of family violence.

"Men used to come to me and say 'I wish I had of done this sort of thing when I was young'. But unfortunately guys come to me when their wives or girlfriends have said enough is enough.

"These guys had an understanding that relationships were based on power and control, but they aren't."

David hosts the Heavy METAL (Men's Education Towards Anger and Life) program two periods a week at Endeavour Hills and Fountain Gate secondary colleges.

"The biggest thing with kids is that they tend not to how to handle things when they are stressed. It is the whole flight versus fight syndrome. Do they shut down and withdraw, or reach out in an aggressive manner like yelling and screaming?

"With this happening in the school ground, they can get into fights easily, hence the growing problem of bullying.

"The benefit of having these groups is getting the boys to acknowledge that reaction but that they don't know how else to react.

"But we show them there are other ways of dealing with their issues."

David said the sessions taught the boys communication skills and assertiveness.

"They learn to identify the triggers of their anger and to get to know themselves better."

He says he has seen a huge change in the participants.

"The amazing thing is how they support each other. They are a lot more open and talkative amongst each other."

School student welfare co-ordinator Margaret Thompson said while there had not been a dramatic change in the boys, their ability to communicate to their peers and teachers had improved.

"The program is all about being able to communicate their emotions to people.

"We wanted them to be able to communicate verbally rather than react physically.

"While they might still get angry, they are able to control it a lot better."

As a reward for graduating from the program the boys were treated to a joy flight with pilots from the Royal Victorian Young Eagles Program. David says it was hoped the boys would take more than just the memories away with them.

"The pilots also hope that the experience will spark a young person's curiosity to learn more about aviation, and hopefully see that the true potential of life lies beyond everyday surroundings and may be reached through the pursuit of high personal goals."

And if year 7 student Cheyenne's comments are anything to go by, the day was definitely a success. "I think other people should do it too. I plan to get my student licence next year."

By Danielle Butcher - Berwick & District Journal