They buildOn: Ronald Lyons Jr. Sees the ‘Good’ in Detroit After Joining buildOn
Before joining buildOn at Detroit’s Western International High School, Ronald Lyons Jr. didn’t know the good that was coming out of the city – or that he had the potential to improve his community, despite his cerebral palsy.
“I knew right away that Ron was a leader and was passionate about his community and helping others,” said Alexandria Ballard, buildOn’s Youth Engagement Zone Program Manager in Detroit. “I have seen Ron develop his leadership within buildOn through helping plan our sponsorship activities… (and) become more attentive and sensitive to working with a group of students.”
Lyons is currently studying Broadcast at Specs Howard School of Media Arts and hopes to one day start a blog that connects people who are doing good. “I visited places with buildOn, and there are so many people to help; but they could work together and that doesn’t happen,” Lyons said.
buildOn member since: September 2010
What were you doing before you joined buildOn?
Nothing really. I was involved in sports, playing wheelchair basketball. I have cerebral palsy. I use crutches to walk, and also use a wheelchair. I was mostly inside my house because Western, where I went to school, was pretty far. When I got invited to events I couldn’t attend because my father had to work.
How did you get involved with buildOn?
It was in my junior year of high school, and my English teacher was offering extra credit for a community service project in a local garden. I wanted to help my grades, so I decided to help out. I went to the community garden and saw that a lot of my friends were there. They were doing positive things, and they said this was an every weekend thing — but there’s a club on Thursdays you can go. My dad was ecstatic I joined because I was keeping busy and giving back.
[pullquote](buildOn) got me to be more sentimental and to be more open-minded not look at Detroit as such a bad place. I didn’t see any positive things happening until I actually saw buildOn was doing stuff.[/pullquote]
What is one of your favorite projects with buildOn?
We went to this local bike shop, The Hub of Detroit, and learned how to fix the air pressure of the tires… We had a Taste Test at school where the students bring ethnic schools to our library. You can try different foods from all around the world. We also went to Focus:Hope and worked on the assembly line. We packaged canned food for people who are less fortunate.
We went to Clark Park and worked with a place called Recycle Here! where people from (all over the region) bring recycled goods – plastics, papers, books. They bring a giant truck all types of plastics, papers, books – and we’d separate it.
How has buildOn changed your life?
It’s got me to be more sentimental and to be more open-minded not look at Detroit as such a bad place. I didn’t see any positive things happening until I actually saw buildOn was doing stuff. It opened my eyes to other places that were helping: Latino Family Services, recycling and all of that good stuff.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to give a big thank you to big thank you to Keisha Brooks (former buildOn employee), Alexandria Ballard and Mr. William Bowels (buildOn Program Advisor at Western International High School).
Complete this sentence: buildOn is… life-changing.