If you have been to any of the festivals happening in Northwest Ohio in the last few months there is a chance you may have seen The Right Direction. From scooters to wakeboards, The Right Direction is the ultimate organization in Northwest Ohio for bringing action sports to the community.
Support for non-traditional sports
The Right Direction Youth Development Program is a non-profit youth development program that focuses on engaging and supporting kids in action sports such as motocross, BMX, and skateboarding. The organization not only teaches young athletes the skills necessary to succeed in their particular sport, but it also focuses on developing necessary life skills to ensure they have a bright future.
The organization was founded in 2010 by professionally sponsored rider Don DiBartolomeo who had been involved in action sports since he was a kid. Having had the experience of working as a professional rider at a young age, DiBartolomeo understands the importance sports can play in the development of values and skills for kids. In Northwest Ohio there is a great amount of endorsement and recognition for the more traditional sports, such as football and baseball. However, action sports do not generally receive the same support. DiBartolomeo founded The Right Direction as a way to help support local kids in their interest for non-traditional sports.
DiBartolomeo has been very involved in the community throughout his professional career, so The Right Direction is also focused greatly on giving back to the community, through mentoring kids. DiBartolomeo instills the importance of giving back and provides multiple ways which young athletes can make a positive impact, stating, “Everything we do has some community give back.”
One initiative created by The Right Direction is their Impact Program. With a focus on community and the development of life skills, The Right Direction helps young athletes plan and enact fundraisers for charities of their choice. In the past, athletes have brought action sports demonstrations to their schools where the student population can pay $1 to get out of class to watch the demo. The money raised then goes towards a charity of the athlete’s choice. However, it is also the responsibility of the athlete to take over the marketing and planning for the fundraiser. After the event, the athlete creates a story, through video or written, that can be shared by the school and The Right Direction.
Along with fundraisers, The Right Direction hosts a number of contests throughout the year at local parks. There are many kids who spend countless hours in skate parks working to improve, but often do not have the chance to showcase their skills. By participating in the contests, kids create their own 1-2 minute run set to music and are then judged and awarded prizes. It’s a way to recognize the athletes for their hard work. The contests are free, but The Right Direction asks for a donation of a canned good which goes to a local food bank.
Additionally, the organization offers demos across Northwest Ohio throughout the year. The demonstrations are given by instructors and young athletes who participate in the Action Sports Demo Team. Along with showcasing action sports, the demonstrations incorporate positive messages about safety, anti-bullying, the dangers of drugs and tobacco, and the importance of healthy living.
By participating in The Right Direction, young athletes not only see how they can positively impact their community, but they are also developing team work, communication, time management, and leadership skills, all which are necessary to succeed as a professional athlete or in any career field they may choose.
Q&A with Don DiBartolomeo
What’s your favorite activity to do with your family/kids? Sharing a meal with them, everyone’s there at the same time and place.
What’s your go-to activity when you finally have a few minutes to yourself? Riding my bike.
Name one thing you swore you’d never do as a parent, but totally did……. Tell them, “Oooohhh I would take you to McDonald’s but they’re closed on (whatever day it happened to be)….because they’re cleaning.
Describe your life in five words Always love what you’re doing.
Want to learn more or see The Right Direction’s work in action?
- What? September demonstrations
- Where? Waterville’s Roche De Boeuf Festival and BGSU’s STEM in the Park
- When? Sat., September 23rd 2017 at 10:30am and 1:45pm
- Why? Come see The Right Direction Action Sports Demo Team as they share their talents, and a positive message about living a healthy lifestyle.
For more information about The Right Direction and how to get
involved, please visit therightdirection.org