SparkOpportunity Winner: Ryan Dalton
RYAN DALTON, 23 - NEW ORLEANS, LOUSIANA
As a teen, Ryan Dalton was considered an “at-risk” youth--he sold drugs, was incarcerated, and had been shot several times. He has since turned his life around with the help of a community program for disconnected youth and hopes to develop the P.U.S.H program to help reverse the effects of poverty and violence for his fellow NOLA youth. He is one of the five winners of the SparkOpportunity Challenge Youth Award.
Here, Ryan shares more about his project in a Q&A with SparkAction.
What is your idea? I hope to develop the P.U.S.H program (Perseverance, Understanding, Success, Healing) to develop educational and employment opportunities for the youth of New Orleans. P.U.S.H. will create educational and athletic camps for young people in underutilized parks throughout the city to reinforce the importance of healthy recreation during summer. Young people (16-24) will be employed as camp counselors, coaches or concession stand salesmen to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. The goal of the P.U.S.H. Program is simple: Create safer and better communities through inspiration, dedication, and productive recreation.
Are you currently a student or working? I am a student at Southern University at New Orleans pursuing a degree in Business Entrepreneurship and Public Administration. I am also the front of house manager and floor trainer at Cafe Reconcile and a National Youth Ambassador for the Youth Leadership Institute.
Why did you submit to the Challenge? I decided to submit my idea because I felt my voice should be heard. I put a lot of thought and passion into my idea, and I think P.U.S.H. can be the key to the door of opportunity for many young people in New Orleans.
What inspired you to come up with this idea? When I was young, there were many more youth-friendly activities in the communities than there are today. Not as many young people were involved in violent crimes or disconnected from education. Now, crime and disconnection are at an all-time high. There are not many activities are positive influences around, which leaves youth idle and anxious. The P.U.S.H. project would provide those missing positive activities and influences that our communities need.
What are your next steps? I am still in the process of developing this program, and I will be meeting with some advisors to figure out how these funds can help move my idea forward in a useful way. My next step is to recruit community members to serve on my board of directors. We are hoping to take over our first park by the end of this summer.
Why do you think is it important to help other youth? I feel it's important to help other youth because someone helped me. I don’t want to see another lost generation--I want to see this generation make a change.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your idea? Ultimately I’m hoping that my idea accomplishes safer and more trusting communities and a way to educate and steer youth in the right path. I also hope P.U.S.H. can work to promote entrepreneurship, healthy living, and employment. I also want to see the parks we take over eventually serve as resource centers for young people looking for other opportunities.
Follow Ryan at @RyanDalton88!
The SparkOpportunity Challenge was a crowdsourcing competition for young people to share their ideas on how to create local jobs and opportunities for youth. The Challenge was developed by SparkAction and the Youth Leadership Institute and joined Jon Bon Jovi in support of the White House Council for Community Solutions. Learn more >>