The Electrical Worker online
April 2020

Toronto NextGen Hosts Dodgeball Tourney
for Men's Health
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Promoting men's health doesn't have to be boring. Just ask members of Toronto Local 353's NextGen committee, who tackled the serious issue with mustaches and a dodgeball tournament.

"Dodgeball seems to work for us," said Aaron Zboch-Alves, co-chair of NextGen, the IBEW group focused on young members in the brotherhood. "We get a lot of support from our union and from the broader labor community."

While the promise of nostalgic sport may have inspired some, the cause was the real reason for the tournament. "Movember" is a movement that focuses on raising awareness about men's health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. During the month of November, in particular, participants are encouraged to grow their mustaches as a show of solidarity.

"Construction is very male-dominated, so it's good to promote men's health, especially mental health," said Tim Shilson, Zboch-Alves's NextGen co-chair. "It's really important to talk about, and I'm glad we can start that conversation."

Zboch-Alves says this is the fourth year of the competition, one of the committee's largest events, and that it's been a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.

"Local 353 is good about letting us fall down and scrape our knees in terms of trying new things and learning as we go," Shilson said.

This year, the tournament raised about $2,200, all donated in the winning team's name, the self-titled "High Class Line Trash," a team comprised of members from Local 353.

The tournament, held on Nov. 30 at the Birchmount Community Centre outside Toronto, was planned by the NextGen committee and was open to all unions and labor organizations, as well as retirees. Participating IBEW locals included Kingston Local 115 and Kitchener Local 804 as well as the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario.

Area unions and labor organizations who came out included the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 79, the Carpenters and Allied Workers Local 27, the Central Ontario Building Trades, Insulators Local 95, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 503 and the Sheet Metal Workers Local 30.

In the interest of gender equality and helping as many people as possible, Local 353's NextGen committee also collected feminine hygiene products during the month of February and March. All donations went to Period Purse, an organization that gives out the items in purses — along with snacks like granola bars and chocolate — to those living on the streets and to others in need.

"No one should have to choose between food and hygiene," Shilson said. "Plus, it's good for a male-dominated industry to do something like this, to make us a little more inclusive."


Members of Toronto, Ontario, Local 353's NextGen committee put on a dodgeball tournament in support of Movember, a movement to support's men's health.


During the month of November, participants are encouraged to grow mustaches — or simply don a fake one — as show of solidarity for the cause. Pictured: Local 353 Dillon Burt (left) and Dave Mee, First District International Representative Cheryl Paron and NextGen co-chair Aaron Zboch-Alves.