NZers of the Year: Celia Lashlie, social campaigner

By Derek Cheng

Celia Lashlie has worked tirelessly to help adolescent boys survive the lure of fast cars, alcohol and drugs to become good men.

Since 2001, her Good Man Project has seen the author, feminist and former prison manager visit 25 schools and 180 classes, talking to boys from Years 7 to 13.

The project is one of many for Lashlie - others include one for women coming out of prison, and another getting youth into employment in Nelson - but it is already starting to reap rewards.

Westlake Boys' High School headmaster Jim Dale said his students have a new-found confidence and improved father-son relations since the project started there two years ago.

Lashlie's report this year - It's About Boys - will influence boys' schools and how they educate their students, as well as provide parents with the means to support their adolescent sons.

The central idea behind the Good Man Project, she says, is less mollycoddling from mum and more time spent with male role models.

She uses a bridge analogy to describe the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

"I knew I could walk on to the bridge with my daughter ... but when it came to my son, I didn't know whether I should be on the bridge at all. The mistake I made was to not only walk on to the bridge with my son, but to stand in the middle and direct traffic."

The project culminated in a book - He'll Be OK - Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men - released in October.

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