Ryan Switzer Of The Pittsburgh Steelers Giving Mighty Cubs Some Kind Words.
WFMJ 21 News Interview Sonny Parker
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“To Move Forward, You Have to Give Back,” Oprah Winfrey
My name is Sonny Parker and I am the Executive Director of Mighty Cubs. If there is anything that I have learned, it isn’t where you start, it is where you finish. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, in a neighborhood far from the limelight. It was an area that cultivated trouble and reeled in the ‘problem’ children like myself. To make matters worse, at the age of 11 I was taken away from my mother and I didn’t have a father figure to take me in. Unfortunately, because of this, I was placed into Child and Youth Services’ custody.
From there, I continued to act out and make poor decisions. Frankly, I didn’t enjoy going to school. I chose joining gangs and fighting over actively pursuing an education from a very young age. I also did not have any stability at home seeing as I bounced from foster home to foster home until I sought emancipation at 17. The court granted me adult status, but that did not absolve me of all my past wrongdoings or free me of their consequences. My senior year of high school I was offered the opportunity to play football at the college level, but my previous choices derailed that chance. I felt as if I had no direction to go, therefore, the path of bad decisions continued.
In 2004 I had my first daughter, in 2006 my son came into the world, and in 2009 my third child was born. I met my wife in 2014, and the two of us had a son in 2015. Shortly thereafter, I received custody of all three of my children from my previous relationship. It was then that the bad path I had been traveling down reached a dead end. My children became the driving force behind my need to do better, to give back, and to become a better person. This is when I started Mighty Cubs.
Mighty Cubs began as an organization designed to give back to the youth in the community. The experience I gained throughout my own childhood allows me to relate with the troubled youth in my area. With Mighty Cubs and a partnership with several school districts, I created the “Get R.I.G.H.T” Program which stands for Respect, Intelligence, Great, Happy, Teamwork. This program targets at risk youth and aims to decrease bullying, cyber bullying, truancy, and the risk of youth embarking down the wrong path. With the “Get R.I.G.H.T” Program, students are exposed to community service which takes them off the street and shows them the value of service and team building. In the future, I hope to open a community center for at risk youth to provide a second home for those students who need a safe place to land.
Together, we can give students in our community a better today, tomorrow, and future.
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