BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The topic of mental health has become less taboo and less used as a negative connotation, over the last couple years.
A look at an outreach program that helps an often overlooked part of the population, trying to get boys on the right track.
Building confidence, making healthy choices and helping boys turn into men with strong leadership skills. It is the mission Boys on the Right Track hopes to conquer for boys in today's society, so that they do not slip through the cracks.
Boys on the Right Track coach, Scott Pagliaccio said, "This program is the perfect example of being the change."
Pagliacco said the curriculum is geared towards boys between the ages of 8 and 13, with training in social and emotional intelligence and packaged in a rite of passage activity like a 5k run.
"Letting these boys know that it's okay to feel sadness, to feel anger, to feel, to feel joy and let them actually feel it and experience it in their body, Pagliacco said.
The non-profit collaborating with another non-profit, Seneca Street Community Development Corporation, to complete their mission. Two out of three children in the Seneca Street CDC program come from homes with annual incomes below $25,000.
"It's a program to help our boys, not just to running the 5k, but again team building and confidence building and character building and all those things that are so important to these young boys as they're growing up into being teens," Seneca Street Community Development Corporation founder, Cheryl Bird said, "What we've seen with both our young boys and young girls is that when you come from somewhat a disadvantaged background, which some of our kids do. There's sometimes not the role models that they would like in their families, particularly male role models."
Jordan Folch and Landon Davies have come to the Seneca Street CDC since they were in kindergarten. They are also planning to take on the 5k with boys on the right track, at the end of June.
"Well, we learned about is to respect each other. We're like brothers and sisters and our family members. We have each other's back and we learn manners and everything," 12-year-old Jordan Folch said.
Thirteen-year-old, Landon Davies explained, "I like it because I can play basketball in the gym and when it's hot out, I can go outside onto the court that they have here. They have a playground."
Helping young boys turn into influential teens, one team building activity at a time.
"If I suppress that, and I keep it inside of me for so long, it's going to come out of me sideways, and it could be effecting my family, the people in my family. You see what's happening in the world right now. You don't see women shooting people, hurting people. It's mostly men and boys and I think it's directly related to a lack of training in emotional intelligence," Pagliaccio said.