Opinion: Finding Your Tribe

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Ever wonder where the funds go when you participate in a charitable program like Movember, or take part in an event like the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride? Previously working to promote men’s health by supporting organizations such as Prostate Cancer Canada, the Movember team has since widened their scope once they came to the realization that the greatest threat to men is (unfortunately) themselves. If you’ve witnessed any of their powerful ad campaigns, you’ll know that they’ve started working the improvement of men’s mental health, and suicide prevention.

For some, riding a motorcycle is a solo affair. Sweet solitude away from your job, your partner and your obligations. It certainly lends itself to be an activity enjoyed by oneself. On the other hand, it can also provide access to a community of like-minded people; something that has been sorely lacking since the beginning of this pandemic.

Creating and maintaining social connections can prove to be incredibly helpful. Oftentimes men suffer in silence. It isn’t until after the unthinkable happens that we find out how much that person was struggling. Teaching men to recognize the signs and not be afraid to ask for help is crucial, but it’s up to all of us to remove the stigma and create a welcoming atmosphere where people can be themselves. This doesn’t mean you’ve got to sit around holding hands singing Kumbaya but think about how much better you feel after hanging out with your buddies, blowing off steam and wrenching on your bike. You’ve vented, you’ve had a few laughs and you’ve accomplished something.

Last June, Movember and Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) launched the Social Connections Challenge for this very reason. They reached out to
global motorcycle community looking for ideas to develop, pilot, and evaluate motorcycle-related programs that will promote social connectivity.
Submissions from Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the UK made it past the first round of approval.

A member of the Movember Toronto Volunteer Committee and a men’s mental health advocate, Adam Sanzo helped assemble a team to submit a concept for Canada called Project Team Building. The idea involves assembling groups of gentlemen to congregate, collaborate and build a custom motorcycle from concept to execution.

The initiative aims to create a supportive (virtual) community through a motorcycle building experience for men who feel that they are either physically or socially isolated – whether it be due to geography, Covid, or they just haven’t found their people yet. As Covid continues to limit in-person events, it is even more important for men to socialize. This way you also get to be part of a cool motorcycle build in the process. Offering a virtual approach means members can participate remotely.

The proposed one-year initiative is still in the theoretical stages. The initial idea was approved and moved on to the next phase which has involved additional research, focus groups and outreach to the Canadian motorcycle community looking for partners and participants. Based on feasibility and pending final approval based on a submission made by the team next month, the program would start mid-2021.

The pilot is currently open to men in Ontario who are looking to improve their mental health and feel physically or socially isolated – both of which have been exacerbated by the current pandemic. If successful the scope may widen in the future.

The team is currently looking for interested participants, as well as seeking potential partnerships with bike builders, fabricators, parts suppliers, or other creative individuals looking to offer their services to the build. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, why not throw your hat in the ring? What else have you got planned until the lockdown is over?

Join the conversation!