Many unemployed men end up spending a lot of time at home doing nothing. Feeling isolated, they often have too much coffee and tobacco, too little exercise, and not enough socializing where they can share their frustrations or deal with their traumatic experiences. Keystone offers a safe place for men from the vulnerable layers of society. Many of them are struggling with unemployment, poverty, lack of self-esteem, trauma etc., but Keystone gives these vulnerable men an opportunity to improve their physical, social, and mental health through exercise, group discussions and new supportive relationships.
“We created the Keystone for Men project because we saw that many men had health issues related to their lifestyle. And we experienced that the combination of exercise, fellowship and positive input can help vulnerable men to break out of unhealthy coping cycles,” says Program Manager Tim Nall.
The effect of Keystone is visible in the groups: Men, who were once strangers, form into bands of brothers in spite of socio-religious or other differences that once kept them apart. They open up about their fears and goals, and take the fellowship to a deeper level by holding each other accountable to improve and overcome. Keystone’s motto is “Stronger Together”.
Keystone’s physical activities and supportive relationships also have a multiplying effect of positive behaviors in other areas of life, most often immediately experienced by the families of these men.
Operation Mercy partners with local community centers to provide the space for a Keystone group to meet. The group consists of 15-25 men and for three months they meet twice a week for 90 minutes.
The first 30 minutes is spent in a group discussion on life skills, identifying community resources, and facilitating the men to come up with their own solutions to problems.
The next 60 minutes is an exercise workout with no equipment. The men get down on the floor, side by side, as the coach leads them through a challenging but fun workout of push ups, sit-ups, squats and many other exercises and games. By the end of the session everyone is dripping in sweat, clapping and congratulating one another for pushing themselves. In this way the men cheer each other on, get stronger, healthier, and burn stress.