Braxton Guy and his runners

Braxton Guy (in front at right) sits with his young running team at Central Park in Newark on a recent evening. Most of the group of 20 will take part in Newark’s annual Turkey Day Race Thanksgiving morning.

NEWARK — There has been plenty of talk in this village over the past year of packs of young people roaming Newark’s streets and causing trouble — anything from vandalism to theft to noise.

“(Residents are) saying that, but they’re not doing anything to help it,” said Braxton Guy.

Despite a full plate, Guy felt compelled to find a way to help. After all, said the 22-year-old SUNY Geneseo student, this is the next generation of young people, and they need guidance and direction.

His idea: Have Newark’s young people hit the streets — not to cause trouble, but to run.

Each Tuesday and Thursday in November, they’ve done just that. Guy leads a group of mostly elementary- and middle-school children on runs of 2-5 miles around Newark. The group is called The Future Run the Streets, and it started out Nov. 2 with just three members — Braxton, his 8-year-old brother Camden, and Camden’s friend, Conlee Sigler.

“We’ve been growing and growing each week,” Guy said.

They start out at Central Park on South Main Street at 6:30 p.m. and head out for the nighttime runs. They now have donated reflective gear for safety.

The group has generated some buzz in Newark.

On a recent inclement evening, Guy opted to scrap the run, only to find out that a bunch of kids had assembled at Central Park.

“They were waiting for me. They were ready to run,” Guy marveled.

That group of three has turned into 20.

The original goal of The Future Run the Streets was to prepare for Newark’s Turkey Day Race Thanksgiving morning, which returns Thursday after a one-year hiatus, but Guy wants the group to continue after the race.

In just a short time, the kids have been working into shape, he said. While they take short walk breaks during their runs, those brief respites are becoming shorter and fewer.

“I’m truly impressed with all these kids,” Guy said.

Most of the participants are young, with one in second grade, but Guy is hoping to attract older Newark kids.

While the effort is centered on finding healthy activities for Newark’s young people, Guy wants it to be a community initiative, and he’s been impressed with how merchants and community members have pitched in. He said they have stepped up to help with donations of food and equipment, as well as enough money to enter his runners in Thursday’s Turkey Day Race.

Among those supporting the effort is Newark business owner Dee Bodine.

“I am a huge supporter of what he’s doing,” Bodine said. “He’s a young man who cares about his community and the kids in it. He works full time and goes to school full time and still finds a couple hours a week for these kids. That’s more than what some parents do.”

His mother, Courtney Guy, is impressed with what her son has accomplished.

“I am extremely proud of what he has done with these kids in a very short time,” she said. “Braxton said to me at his little brother’s football game his idea of putting this all together because of all the complaining about the kids in Newark he was reading on social media. I told him it was a great idea if he thought he would have the time. As fast as I gave him my opinion, he had it posted with location, dates, times and even a name for the group.

“He didn’t just talk about it. He just did it.”

Guy also coaches basketball at the Alex Eligh Community Center, works full time at the Phelps Community Center, and works weekends at Craft 120 on East Union Street in Newark. He’s also involved with the Black Lives Matter movement in Wayne County, where he has delivered speeches at their events.

He said his efforts to guide Newark’s young people won’t end with the colder weather. He’s looking to put together some winter kickball games and set up some indoor activities focused on fitness.

His mother is not surprised by her son’s success with Newark’s youngsters.

“Braxton is all about change and helping kids,” Courtney said. “When he sets his mind to something he does it. He wanted a way to show people that the kids in our area have great potential if you take the time. He has personally given these kids something to look forward to, they have made new friendships, stayed busy and met more people in the community. It has been very rewarding as his mother to see the good that he is thriving for to come out of these kids, especially kids in our community.”

She noted that one youngster who was asked by his mother to run with the group started out reluctantly, but now looks forward to the twice-weekly runs eagerly.

Sadly, Guy noted, there is much work to be done when it comes to perceptions of Newark youth.

“It was the night when we had an impromptu run when the new group of kids showed up,” Guy recalled. “We ran at Perkins Park due to the time we ended up running, and the police showed up due to a call about kids fighting. It was ironic because one of the initial reasons for starting this group was due to the negative comments about the youth in the community. This time there were no kids causing trouble. Just kids ‘running the streets,’ literally.”

The Future Run the Streets’ final training before the Turkey Day Race was set for last night. The group was going to take off for Burger King, where the restaurant is treating the kids, he said. He was asking adults to lead the run in their vehicles and blast their car horns along the route from West Miller Street to Burger King on Finch Street.

If interested in joining the group, check out the Facebook page Braxton has created.

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