Life is hard for teenagers, Man to Man helps them get through it together

“Guns, gangs and drugs: Number of teens charged with murder doubles since 2016…” — Nov 16, 2017

“Loved ones still searching for shooters who killed two Warren Central students…”  — May 8, 2018

“As murders rise among Indianapolis youth, so too does the search for answers…” — July 2, 2018

“Teens shot highlights continuing youth violence in Indianapolis…” — Sept. 24, 2018

The headlines in Indianapolis in the last few years paint a picture that is often life or death for a teen. In an effort to keep teen members safe, the Ransburg YMCA started a program in 2013 called Man to Man. Alice Weber, sports & teen director, began the program, which meets the first Saturday of every month after the Y closes at 7 pm. Alice was looking for a safe place for the young men from her basketball leagues to hang out to keep them off of the streets. Some of the teens who were killed in the headlines above were friends of our young men.

Real world talk

Man to Man offers caring adult mentors who volunteer to talk “real world” with the teens. It offers a hot meal that many wouldn’t receive over the weekend otherwise. And it offers what most of the young men at the Ransburg Y love- basketball.

Man to Man is designed to help the guys get a real picture of the everyday hardships that life throws at them. Adult male role models help guide them through the many struggles they face, while giving them tools to cope in a healthy manner. This group encourages togetherness and promotes self-esteem, self-sufficiency, respect and leadership, as well as provides support and education through stories and discussions.

Here are some of the topics they’ve discussed:

  • Accountability and responsibility
  • The importance of registering to vote and being civically engaged (with guest speaker IN Congressman Andre Carson)
  • What life in prison is like (from volunteer guest speaker)
  • What it takes to be a man and how to treat women
  • NOW is the foundation for manhood and fatherhood
  • Opioid crisis
  • Marijuana epidemic
  • STDs
  • Gangs
  • Self image- presenting yourself in a positive light through language, dress, actions, attitude and social media


Participation has doubled

The group began with an average of 25 teens and 4-5 volunteers each month. Today, Man to Man averages 40-50 teens with 10-12 volunteers a month.

No child chooses to grow up without a mother or father. Teenage years are a critical period in a child’s life. For a young man, not having a father can prove to have an increased risk of drug use, theft, inappropriate behaviors, or ending up in prison. With Man to Man, young men are able to talk and share their stories, listen to each other, and learn they are not alone in their day-to-day struggles.

We asked the young men three questions one night:

  1. What benefits do you receive from the program?
  2. What is your favorite part of the program?
  3. What does the Man to Man program mean to you?

With no prompting at all, they answered exactly how we hoped they would!

“I learn the right way NOW to do things in life and in the future.”

“I get the benefit of receiving knowledge from a group of men that care about me.”

“I get the life lessons that I do not get all the time at home.”

“We get advice and a safe place to come.”

“I get new ways to listen and become a leader.”

Talk tops food and basketball

The Ransburg Y staff assumed 100 percent of the answers to, “What is your favorite part of the program,” would be (in this order): basketball, food, discussion. They “suffer through” the talks to get to eat and play basketball. They are teenage boys, after all! We were SHOCKED to read that of the 36 surveys done that night, all but three responded that their favorite part of the program was the discussion with male role models!

When asked, their favorite part of the program is…

“Coming together for an intellectual discussion about current topics and how to deal with them.”

“When Coach Kevin tells us something important.”

“Not only getting to play basketball, but learning about what it takes to be a leader.”

“Coming together for an intellectual discussion about current topics and how to deal with them.”

The teens shared more about what Man to Man means to them in this video.

The Ransburg YMCA is celebrating 60 years on the east side of Indianapolis in 2019. To support programs like Man to Man and others, make a donation to the Annual Campaign today. Thank you!