By Tanya Comeault
Harry Turner started burning wood some time last year. Before Men’s Shed, he had never thought of himself as an artist. That has all changed. Now he’s about to sell his pieces in a little shop at Winnipeg Beach. “And it’s because of Men’s shed”, says Harry at the first anniversary celebration of the first Men’s Shed in Canada. “Times change,” he says, “a lot of people are gone. People our age shouldn’t be sitting in front of the TV all day alone. Coming to Men’s Shed is sociable, we discuss all the politics of the world – the conversations are just terrific.”
Men’s Shed is like a large shed (like the one in many back yards) that supports men to come together and undertake activities, such as woodwork or other hobbies, and in doing so, enhance the health and well being of the men who participate.
“Men don’t talk face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder”
Most men have learned from our culture that they don’t talk about feelings and emotions. There has been little encouragement for men to take an interest in their own health and well being. Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they usually don’t ask for help. Probably because of this, many men are less healthy than women, they drink more, take more risks and they suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression.
Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community, connecting to friends and maintaining an active body and an active mind.
Because men don’t often make a fuss about their problems, these problems have consistently been either ignored or swept under the mat by both our health system and our modern society. It’s time for a change and the Men’s Shed movement is a powerful tool in helping men to once again become valued and valuable members of our community.
“Men find doing things relaxing, and that in itself is good for their health,” says Harry. Many retired people have had to downsize their living arrangements, often resulting in the man’s personal space, usually a garden shed or workshop being lost. Adhering to the dominant definition of “masculinity” may be great when you’re thirty, but it’s no longer necessary when you get older and it can be bad for your health.