two men building birdhouses to donate to community parks

Phil Johnson, now 70, was living in Minnesota, recently retired from a career in software development and looking online for activities for older men. He thought often of his own father, who had struggled with getting out of the house for the last 20 years of his life. Between 2015 and 2016, both Johnson and Sears came across Men’s Sheds, an initially Australian organization that was making its way across the globe, in their hunt for something to do.

“It sounded kind of like Boy Scouts for old guys,” explains Johnson. “There weren’t merit badges to earn but there was camaraderie at a local level that really appealed to me.”

studies of Men’s Sheds across the globe have found that men talk actively about their health concerns while they’re there—something Winston calls “health by stealth.” Many sheds schedule visits from health workers to talk about staying physically active or common diseases like diabetes, and some sheds in Australia and Ireland even offer health screenings to members.

This is one of the reasons Men’s Sheds don’t recruit women to join them, though they, as well as younger men, are welcome to come by if they’d like. “It’s difficult for guys to discuss their prostate problems if someone in the group is a woman,” explains Sears.

Read more in the Philadelphia Citizen.

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