Local training program instills leadership, encourages healthy behaviors
By Daniel Meyer
Using a non-competitive training concept that stresses the importance of comprehending life and leadership skills for boys of various physical abilities, Boys on the Right Track provides children in Western New York a fun fitness option for parents looking for opportunities for their son to unplug and unwind.
The nonprofit organization has established a program specifically designed to provide boys ages 8 to 13 access to something that can boost their self-confidence, make new friends, learn healthy life lessons and understand the discipline and conditioning needed to train for running in a 5-kilomter race.
Dozens of local schools and youth organizations now offer programming developed by Boys on the Right Track, which was established in 2013. The ability for young boys in the Southtowns, in the Northtowns and in the City of Buffalo to participate has given parents throughout the region confidence in allowing their children to remain active in a safe and supervised setting.
Training sessions are normally held twice a week for nine weeks, with a specific curriculum covering a variety of topics that offer tips on physical conditioning as well as helpful day-to-day life lessons.
“Our program is designed to teach these boys how to establish healthy relationships by utilizing effective communication and the best ways to handle potential conflict,” said Juliet Meade, the founder and executive director of Boys on the Right Track. “We have serious discussions about personal behaviors, dealing with peer pressure, how to interact with bullies, and the best ways to cope with stress and anger and things that frustrate most children that age.”
There are user-friendly presentations on nutrition, including teaching each boy how to read labels on food packages and better comprehend portion sizes and other personal food consumption topics.
At the end of the nine weeks of training each boy participates in a 5K run, with the volunteer coaches leading the all-inclusive program supporting and encouraging each child regardless of their running ability or previous involvement with other sports.
“What I like is the opportunity for young boys to get out and move,” said Bill Faust, a Lake View resident and past volunteer coach. “It is a great chance for them to get outside, get some fresh air, and just have fun.”
Parents of past participants praise the program for the ability of the Boys on the Right Track curriculum and training sessions to inspire their children.
“Both of my boys really enjoyed Boys on the Right Track because it gave them something to look forward to and provided some consistently physical activity and also allowed the kids to talk about things like self-control and self-confidence and do so in an environment that isn’t a typical classroom setting,” said Faust, whose twin sons participated when they were both 9 years old. “The kids were awesome and I felt great knowing my two boys and the other boys were all exercising and learning and having fun together.”
Feedback from previous students regularly features glowing reviews about how much the program provided them with helpful life lessons.
“I like that we spent time with our friends and learned a lot about running and what it takes to achieve something when you set your mind to it,” said Colton Faust. “It really was a great program.”
“Boys on the Right Track isn’t just about running,” said Jackson Faust. “The coaches were very supportive of us and we learned so much. It’s not only about running and how to train for a 5k. We learned about sportsmanship and teamwork and how important it is to encourage other boys and be respectful of them.”
The cost of the program for a nine-week session is $165. The fee includes regular coaching by individuals who are CPR certified, 18 lessons focused on empowerment and healthy habits, a program t-shirt, registration for the end-of-session 5k race, a finishers medal and healthy snacks that are provided during each lesson. Some health insurance plans do offer coverage for the program, with financial aid being offered to those who are eligible.
The success of the program comes from constant evaluation of the course curriculum and ongoing research about the challenges young boys face in today’s society both at home and in school.
“Our format allows us to have consistency with satisfied participants,” said Meade. “They are having fun but they are also learning. We have our lessons designed in such a way that the research we conduct is regularly implemented into each week’s activities so that we are constantly updating and reflecting current trends and what type of situations boys this age regularly come across on a daily basis.”
Sessions are offered each fall and spring and are made possible by various program sponsors over the past few years as well as individual donations from community members who reside throughout Western New York.
Find Out More
Information about Boys on the Right Track can be found at www.boysontherighttrack.org.