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Budd Bailey's Running: Program keeps boys on right track

The best advice about running is also the simplest: Take one step at a time, and keep going forward.

That's also Juliet Meade's plan for her nonprofit organization, "Boys on the Right Track."

The Lake View resident has set up a program designed to give a little boost to young boys who can use one. She adds some running to the schedule in order to teach them a few lessons about life that way, too.

Boys on the Right Track is coming up on its third birthday, a good-sized milestone for a project like this.

"Back in 2013, I was working as a professor, and had access to research and books," Meade said. "I found that boys are lagging behind in elementary years. According to a U.S. Department of Education study in 2012, the girls are actually thriving in their elementary years in some ways, while the boys are falling behind.

"They were more at risk to commit suicide, be incarcerated, become drop-outs."

Meade found that interesting. She calls herself a feminist, but has two boys and a girl of her own. Meade, who has worked in a variety of teaching roles at educational institutions locally over the years, decided to start a program of her own and see what happened.

"I spearheaded a pilot program," she said. "We did it at the Briarwood Training Center outside of Briarwood Country Club. ... It sold out within a few days, and we capped the program at 33 kids."

The nonprofit organization was formally created in November 2013, and Meade was off. A spring program followed. and it again sold out quickly. Now it has expanded to where 20 schools throughout the area have been on board. Three different states have adopted programs. There even have been people from other countries asking about it.

"I've politely declined those," she said about the foreign interest. "I'm the only one running the program. I'm it. It's very challenging. My family comes first, and there's only so much you can take on."

This has no association with the Girls on the Run program, although it shares a few similarities. Sessions in this case are staged twice a week for nine weeks for children ages 8 to 13. Students spent 90 minutes at each session, with the first part devoted to running.

"We have tailored it so they are active," Meade said. "We tire them out and sit them down."

The lessons cover a variety of areas that can be helpful in day-to-day life.

"Our program is designed to teach boys to form healthy relationships," she said. "It's about effective communication. There's talk about handling peer pressure and bullies. We talk about nutrition, which is a huge component. We teach kids how to read labels on packages. A lot of parents don't look at the labels, and see how much sugar is in there. There's also help for stress and anger management."

At the end of the seasonal program, the boys take part in a 5-kilometer run. Boys on the Right Track has partnered with the Veterans Race in November, and with a June running event that had 210 finishers under the age of 14.

The program costs $150 to $175 per child, and students have to provide their own sneakers and water bottle. However, there is financial help available for those who can't afford it.

"We've given the program away for free to many," Meade said. "I'd rather do that than make any money, and to not have kids in the program. I don't think it should only be accessible to those who can afford the $150. My biggest dream is for us to get some funding from foundations.

"My goal is to reach a much more diverse population. We're working on a program for Seneca Nation that would be free. They have an indoor facility in Brant. I'm trying to have the boys do track in the winter."

It's tough to know what the next step is for Boys on the Right Track. Growing a nonprofit organization is never easy, so we'll have to wait to see how it fares after a good start.

"It's exciting to have a great response," Meade said. "The parents are satisfied, and we have a good reputation. It's been an exciting ride."

Race calendar

* Bemus Point 15K, Village Park, Bemus Point, 9 a.m.  Sunday Sept. 25.

* Linda Yalem Safety Run, 5K, Alumni Arena at University at Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. Sunday Sept. 25, 645-3965.

* Flight 3407 Memorial 5K Race, 1 Town Place, Clarence, 9:30 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1.

* Maggie Lee Memorial for Epilepsy Awareness, 5K, 2 Nottingham Terrace, Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 883-5396.

* Queen of Heaven School Run Walk & Roll Against Bullying 5K, 839 Mill Road, West Seneca, 10 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 674-5206.

* Niagara PAL Cops & Kids Run, 6 miles, 4455 Porter Road, Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 286-7038.

* Pumpkin Run, 5K, 6350 Main St., Williamsville, 10:30 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 783-3100 x3219.

* Knights-Kaderli Memorial 5K Run, 5021 East Shelby Road, Medina, 11 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 998-0977.

* Chowder Challenge, 5K, Pine Woods Park, North Tonawanda, 11 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 316-5955.

* Heritage Centers Foundation 5K, 101 Oak St., Buffalo, 11 a.m. Saturday Oct. 1, 856-4202 x1278.

* Queen City Women's Half Marathon, Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, 8 a.m. Sunday Oct. 2, 830-6713.

* Dash for Diversity, 9K relay, Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park, Buffalo, 10 a.m. Sunday Oct. 2, 853-9596.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com

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