large group of boys in blue tshirts running a race

About Our Program

boys playing with balloons activity

Our history

My daughter was participating in a youth running program in 2013 when a thought popped into my head – why isn’t there a running program for boys? I was working as a college professor at the time and decided to do some research on the matter. I was shocked to learn that boys are more at risk for drug use, depression, suicide, incarceration, high school dropout, delinquent behavior, and increased levels of aggressive behavior. The US Department of Education (2012) reported that most girls thrive in their elementary years, while boys lag behind. This disparity doesn’t shift until women enter the workforce. As a mom with 2 boys and a girl, this inspired me to create a youth running program for boys.

A strong curriculum, according my research, was necessary to empower boys as well as girls. In addition to current learning trends for boys, an effective curriculum addresses gender disparities and teaches children effective communication, how to form healthy relationships, and resolve conflicts.

The beginning of Boys on the Right Track

Founded in 2013, we initially operated BOTRT out of Brierwood Training Center in Hamburg, NY. By word-of-mouth and marketing on social media, we spread the word to friends and family about this inaugural running program for boys. The original program sold out quickly, as did the subsequent others. It was obvious that people really enjoyed the curriculum and found value in our work. Since our humble beginnings (and syndication in 2015), we have successfully provided life and leadership skills to thousands of boys through fun games, activities, lessons, and training to run a 5k. We are based out of Western New York and rapidly expanding, with a high demand for sites in other areas in the country.

As we grow, we want you to be a part of this wonderful community. Register your boys in our running program or become involved yourself by becoming a coach, sponsor, or volunteer.

What makes Boys on the Right Track a success

Boys on the Right Track offers a 9-week noncompetitive 5k running program that helps young men (ages 8-13) to develop social and emotional skills including communication, collaboration, and resilience. The program exists to counteract societal pressures that can push young men to unhealthy expressions of emotion, rather than strong self-knowledge and communication, and equips them to continually grow in self-understanding, collaboration, and self-regulation, skills that serve them for their whole lives. 

BOTRT does not turn anyone away due to inability to pay. We run on donations, which help us expand our program to at-risk boys who frequently lack access.

Addressing social and behavioral challenges

Young men face other challenges that affect their well-being and the well-being of those around them.  Society’s negative ideals of male behavior, such as reduced emotional expression and displays of dominance through aggression, are often normalized and encouraged. These ideals foster an increased likelihood of bullying or violence, while also increasing the stress, anxiety, and anger. Recent studies display a drastic increase in drug use and addiction among men. Most perpetrators of intimate partner violence and gun violence are men. Our culture must do more to equip boys with healthy coping mechanisms, emotional intelligence, and communication skills.

Learning and growing through exercise

When paired with social and emotional learning, and other healthy lifestyle skills, the benefits of our 5k running program cannot be overstated.  Active during each program day, boys grow in skills and health with a curriculum that emphasizes healthy nutrition, communication and leadership skills. Skills gained will benefit participants in the classroom, in their homes, and throughout their lives. 

The program exists to build healthy physical activity in the lives of participants, while counteracting societal pressures that can push young men to unhealthy expressions of emotion, rather than strong self-knowledge and communication. They become physically healthier while becoming stronger students, better neighbors, and ultimately, better citizens. Rather than channeling feelings of insecurity and anger into activities like bullying or violence, graduates of BOTRT programming are equipped to continually grow in self-understanding, collaboration, and self-regulation.  In addition, at-risk boys reduce their likelihood of later criminal activity through positive mentoring and positive relationships with their peers and coach.

Setting our boys up for success

BOTRT empowers boys through sports. Boys compete with themselves and are encouraged to see co-participants as allies, building accessibility and personal choice into sports participation. Running programs can be offered affordably, in varied spaces. Running prepares boys for a variety of other sports, where physical endurance and speed are required. BOTRT’s program builds a love of a sport that boys can participate with alone or with others, on their own time, or to participate in additional sports. BOTRT encourages the sampling of a sport with lower participation rates. BOTRT designed a program specifically for pre-teen boys and their development.

Boys on the Right Track