WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Boys 2 Men, a local program of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas (MHASCK), has ended due to a shift in funding.
“Preventing social problems like unemployment, crime and unfulfilled educational promise as well as gang violence is always better than trying to fix them later,” said Eric Litwiller, the director of communication and development for the MHASCK.
Litwiller says the school-based group program for young men between the ages of 12 and 18 intervened on behalf of those who live in situations where social determinants of health indicate a higher propensity for the social, emotional, and mental health concerns that affect Wichita.
“The confluence of lack of educational and professional opportunities, unstable housing, low income and unhealthy or unsustainable recreational and nutritional environments create living situations that are a breeding ground for any number of social issues, not the least of which is gang membership which often in Wichita at least happens by the age of 14 years old,” Litwiller said.
Litwaller said Boys 2 Men found those young men where they were before life factors could take hold. He said Boys 2 Men brought them together to provide healthy coping skills, mental health support, relationship-building resources and much more.
That was before funding for the program was prioritized elsewhere.
“With the disappearance of preventative programs, all of our qualities of life will suffer for generations to come,” said Litwiller.
Litwiller says since the beginning of 2023, the MHASCK has run on a week-by-week basis, depending on if they can find the $1,500 funding for the next week.
“Compare that meager amount of prevention to the millions of dollars that South Central Kansas spends responding retroactively to the social skills that you see on the news every single day and ask yourself if it’s worth it,” Litwiller said.
Boys 2 Men is seeking donors to help fund the program. To donate, click here.