Legends of Lawndale: A Making Connections Project

Author: Movember

Men’s mental health is in crisis as 3 out of 4 people who take their own life in the U.S. each year are men. The reasons behind this are many and complex, but how gender plays a role needs to be better understood if we are to reduce the terrible toll that suicide plays across our society. 

In recognition of this, the Movember Foundation has funded a number of community-led projects across the U.S. that focus on men. The initiative, administered in partnership with Prevention Institute, is called ‘Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys’ and works to improve mental health and build resilience among different groups of men, all at a heightened risk of exposure to trauma, suicide, and other mental health concerns. Each project is having a direct positive impact on the lives of those involved, their families, friends and communities as well as building evidence around what works for men, and under which circumstances. This knowledge will then be shared to inform the development of other projects across the country and build a brighter future for America’s men at a national scale.

The ‘Legends of Lawndale’ is one of 14 community-led projects within Making Connections. Sinai Health System is coordinating the featured program with a group of local non-profits, schools, and young leaders in Chicago’s west side. As a mentorship program, it is focused on supporting young men and boys of color who are growing up in a challenging environment where far too many men are dying too young. Over 100 boys have participated as mentees in peer-to-peer sports and play activities, and 30 young and older men have been trained as mentors and youth coaches. These numbers are continuing to grow as the program is expanding to other neighborhoods in Chicago. This video shows how the program is changing lives by inspiring a new generation of young men to connect with positive role models and to work together to strengthen their community.

Background on Making Connections:
The Making Connections initiative was created following a detailed landscape report funded by the Movember Foundation and developed by Prevention Institute. The report, Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S., was released In 2014. This report explored some of the underlying factors contributing to the mental health problems in the U.S. Across the interviews and the reports reviewed, consistent themes, trends, and challenges for men and boys emerged, including:
  • Disconnection and isolation—from community, peers, family, children and culture—are major factors that undermine men’s mental health.
  • Trauma, and its associated symptoms of mental and psychological illness, disproportionately impact boys and men of color, in addition to military service members, veterans, and their families.
  • Stressors such as lack of economic opportunity, unstable economy, growing inequity, and exposure to violence are negatively impacting mental health and wellbeing.
To date, the Movember Foundation has invested over $11M USD in the Making Connections initiative.
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