Social entrepreneur Darshan Shanghrajka has launched ‘Being Mankind’, an initiative to empower young men and break gender stereotypes, with a call for crowd-funding on the Kickstarter website. “We’re using diverse stories from positive male role models to inspire young boys and individuals to grow into kind and confident humans,” explains Darshan, “through these stories, we can show how there is no such thing as ‘be a man’ – there is very much a thing as ‘be a good human’. Let’s break gender stereotypes and strive for equality. The only unbreakable code in humanity is kindness and that’s a huge strength; beyond that, you can be an individual and do great things – not just for yourself but for and with those around you.”
‘Being Mankind’ is a book and empowerment project. The hardback book features stories told by men from all walks of life. Each is an honest account of their experiences, ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary. From one man’s use of comedy to break the stigma around anorexia, to a paratrooper who lost his legs on the battlefield and now rows for Great Britain.
“Why stories? We don’t want a guide book – we don’t want a speech – we want stories to be told first-hand, so that they can create ripples. We want our stories to provoke thoughts, spark much-needed conversations, and ultimately – create understanding between people.That’s all going to help ensure a kinder and more inclusive world – imagine unleashing that potential“, added Darshan.
Although this whole initiative is for people of all ages, the project hopes to get much-needed conversations started earlier – with young people. For every book sold, Super Being Labs plans to donate one to a school or youth organisation. Any young person can read these stories and see that being human is complex, diverse and should never be constrained by gender stereotypes.
The Kickstarter fundraising project hopes to raise £75,000 to print a second volume of ‘Being Mankind’ and have this translated into multiple languages. Super Being Labs, the organisation behind the book, is also working alongside like-minded organisations including The Great Initiative, CALM, Kidscape, Let Toys be Toys, Safer London, Diversity Role Models, Men and Boys Coalition, and the Prince’s Trust, to adopt stories as an important teaching resource for promoting diversity among young children, as well as piloting a series of lesson plans for schools based around the stories told.
“Our ultimate aim is to use the Being ManKind stories to ignite conversations in schools and youth organisations in a creative, engaging and unique way. We have created a series of lesson plans and workshops to accompany the donated books. The plans, for 9-11 years and 11+ years, are perfectly suited for schools (PSHE or registration period), youth organisations and older groups (e.g. prison, PRUs).”
“Each session addresses a different, thought-provoking topic, such as body image, mental health and relationships. The common thread throughout the series of eight sessions is to inspire young people to be open, honest and individual thinkers. Feedback from students demonstrates the power of using real-life experiences to raise important issues, “I liked reading about other people’s stories, they taught us that we should treat others equally” (Year 8).”