Pathways Foundation is a national harm prevention charity that is dedicated to assisting young people make a healthy, safe and timely transition from boy to young man and from girl to young woman. Its principal purpose is to promote and assist with the prevention of suicide, self harm, substance abuse, particularly depression and under-achievement, through the provision of community based rites of passage programmes for boys and girls, designed to bolster their self esteem and improve life outcomes for them and regardless of their financial situation.
The Pathways Foundation has been delivering innovative and life changing programmes into communities for over two decades, for children between 6 -15 years. Research shows that the major impact on a child’s self esteem is the relationship they have with their parents and community. Additionally, a high percentage of young children in Australia are experiencing early sexualisation, negative body image and partaking in self harm through drugs and alcohol.
Pathways is a values based organisation that are the framework for all our work are Respect, Responsibility and Awareness for self, others and the environment. Pathways programmes assist with the prevention of risk taking behaviours, self harm, anxiety, substance abuse, under achievement , bullying , body image and disconnection with themselves, families, peers and their community by building stronger and more supportive relationships through a shared positive community building process. Our programmes increase self confidence by giving opportunities to take up challenges and succeeding then celebrating the joy of that.
The teenage rites of passage programmes are five days in bush locations. It is a camping experience for the boys who attend with their father or close mentor. The girls attend with their mother or close mentor in a bush retreat with accommodation. In both settings a strong diverse community of men or women is woven to support the girls or boys in this most important transition.
The YoungStars programme is a weekend adventure bush camp for boys 6-10 and their father or significant male adult.
The programmes provide a safe environment in which young people and their parent can learn through a combination of their own experience and the shared stories of the parents and community attending the programmes. This strengthens and supports building healthy relationships with themselves their peers their families and their community. All of which are the vital ingredients for increased self esteem and overall well-being and being a positive contributing member of their communities. They are able to understand more deeply about what it means to be a healthy young man or woman and understand their own gifts and unique talents they offer the world. Growing their emotional intelligence is a vital to this transition.
In traditional societies where the village did help bring up the children they invested more time and energy into the Rite of Passage marking the transition from child to young adult than any of the other events that made up the rich fabric of village life. The village knew that their very survival depended upon having healthy men and women as community members rather than overgrown boys and girls.
An event to help leave the child behind and to celebrate the first steps of the young adult is Every Child’s Rite. Michael Meade wrote, “If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.”
We know this work makes a difference. Independent market research has confirmed the following significant benefits: increased confidence, stronger more respectful and supportive family relationships, increased respect for women as well as motivation to set goals, finish school and to participate and give back to their community.
To achieve this it is vital they grow up emotionally. A Rite of Passage is one of the greatest gifts you can give your son or daughter.