A Sunday Tulsa World Article reported on a new pilot program in Bartlesville called “Run the Streets.” Any youth ages 14 to 18 in Washington County are eligible for this program, however the focus will be youthful offenders whose dispositions will be set aside if they choose to participate. And what does participation entail? Training for a marathon no less! (14 and 15-year old youths will train for a half marathon.)
Under the guidance of a mentor, youth will train 3 to 4 times a week. According to Probation Officer Bob Williams, “Anyone can run a marathon. It’s the training that is the hard part. This is really a mentoring program in disguise. If you are going to spend 100 hours training for a marathon, that’s going to be a lot of time together.”
The idea for the program is based on Students Run L.A., a program for at-risk students which has shown positive results including more students staying in school, getting better grades, and continuing their education beyond high school. However, Williams is not aware of any running program in the country that targets youthful offenders on probation making this program an innovative solution that:
• Helps children (access to a mentor, exercise, improved health, goal achievement, sets aside dispositions…).
• Saves taxpayer dollars (estimated program costs are $500 per participant for several months of training and mentoring versus $100 a day for a stay in juvenile hall).
• Helps teens make better choices for themselves. (Imagine the sense of accomplishment after completing a marathon!) and
• Creates new collaborations from the Office of Juvenile Affairs, to the YMCA of Bartlesville, to Tulsa Fleet Feet Sports, and several others. And yes – the program is looking for mentors – contact Becke at the YMCA at 918-three-three-six-zero-seven-one-three.
Image used under a Creative Commons license by flickr user Kevin Coles.