If there is any child that epitomizes the River Kidz movement, it is Veronica Dalton. The date was August 3, 2013, and Ed and I were out of town. We were somewhere in North Carolina when my phone started blowing up. “There is going to be a Lost Summer protest at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Surfer, Evan Miller, put a Facebook invite, and over 5000 people are coming!”“Holy cow Ed!” I said. ” I can’t believe we’re gone for this. The River Kidz need to be part. What should I do? There is this newer member, she has written her speeches out before the group for other events, Veronica Dalton. I’m going call her parents, Tammy and John and next, Rivers Coalition leader, Leon Abood, and see if Veronica will do it.” Her parents put Veronica on the phone. Leon supported.
The rest is history.
Eleven year old Veronica Dalton, a student at Port Salerno Elementary School, in her own words- spoke before a crowd of over 5000 people. In the photos sent to me, I could see the crowd loved her and she was beaming!“She has never been nervous about public speaking since,” I am told by her parents John and Tammy Dalton of Stuart. Veronica graduated from South Fork High School’s International Baccalaureate Program. She is now a Sophomore at the Department of Theatre at Florida State University in Tallahassee. I had a chance to catch up with her when she was home during the holidays in late December 2021.
JTL: “Veronica! Great to hear your voice. Tell me about yourself!”
Veronica: “So I’m a theatre major with the School of Theatre at FSU. I’m focusing on design production so I am more on the technical side of theatre and film. I’m learning to design costumes, build costumes. I took a welding class last semester. It’s all hands on work. I am presently working in the costume shop as a stichary, so I’m getting show credits for all of the productions being put on so far. I’ve joined in a non profit organization named MUSED PRODUCTIONS. The goal is to bring focus to artist in Tallahassee. We basically put on live music events that are themed. In April, we’re putting on a ball which is going to have a fashion show element to it as well. So I am the creative director of that event.”
JTL: “Very impressive! I know you were into theatre at South Fork as well. Has Covid waned a bit or is it still defining university?”
Veronica: “At least this year, 2021, it doesn’t seem to be as prominent as last year. FSU isn’t allowed to require students to wear mask so they just highly encourage wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. It’s been normalized now. In 2020 it was pretty intense, we had no in person classes, I was like doing performance theater in my bedroom in front of a camera. It was very strange. This this year having a personal connection is really nice.”
JTL: “Your River Kidz experience of your youth, are any of those skills translatable to what you are doing now?”
Veronica: “Well, yes. So all of the public speaking I did has prepared me to better articulate my ideas especially when I’m coming up with designs and then I have to present them to a director – getting my ideas across – and now I’m doing event management so I’m like really learning how to stay in conversation and host events and organize with other groups of people who have similar interest. So that’s all been very helpful. The communication aspect of River Kidz has really helped.”
JTL: “This makes me so happy Veronica. That’s the thing with skills such as public speaking, especially speaking before a political group, politician, or a crowd, that is applicable to all things in life. It instills confidence.”
Veronica: “My end goal is to go into entertainment law and help costume designers and fashion designers have quality and equal pay – not living unworkable hours -start helping the economic side of theatre.”
~”Also what I’ve I learned in the theatre and the fashion industry is that every thing is very wasteful. They have fast fashion brands like Sheen or Forever 21 that are over-utilizing resources abroad and it’s just causing more waste to be produced. I want to work for creating more sustainable fashion and sustainable fashion houses. We really need to start working on that. There’s so much that goes into it. There’s copyright law because Sheen is always stealing designs off of Instagram and selling them at a cheaper price and they are cheaply made. Usually, those outfits are only worn once or a few times because they are poorly made and they end up in a dump and the cycle just continues.”
JTL: Wow, I would have never thought about that.”
Veronica: “There’s so much sustainability that needs to be brought into theatre and film just to keep it a sustainable art and not something that over time becomes difficult to do because we don’t have the resources we need.”JTL: “Wow the River Kidz recycling education is in you Veronica! I’m so proud! Do you have any words of wisdom for the next generation of River Kidz?”
Veronica: “It’s kind of cliche, but get out of your comfort zone. I say this…. It’s all because, the River Kidz, was an accident chance occurrence- you pushing me onto the stage to speak… 🙂
-Photos shared by Veronica of herself and her boyfriend Trey. Thank you Veronica!