Cone Vaughan

University of Colorado Denver - 2019

Giving underprivileged and impoverished youth access to the outdoors.

Project: My project is giving underprivileged and impoverished youth access to the outdoors. I plan on working with a non-profit organization that currently does this in some capacity and seeing first hand the ways in which to start my own non-profit of a similar nature, and the impacts the organization has on the youth. Getting youth out in the mountains, camping and hiking and overcoming many personal obstacles and building their confidence!


Inspiration: As a youth, I did not have many opportunities to go out and play in the mountains because my family couldn’t afford the equipment nor did they have the time or the desire themselves to go do the things I wanted to do. As an adult, I have taken advantage of the mountains being just a few minutes away and getting found as often as I could in them. I am an avid 14er’s bagger (hiker of the mountain peaks that have an elevation of 14,000 feet or more) and recently I saw first hand just how summitting one of our beautiful 14er’s can boost the confidence of a young person. I hiked Huron Peak with my eight-year-old kiddo this summer. It was their first and my 14th. My kid was the type of kid who would not try new things out of fear. They would not go to birthday parties in fear of not knowing anyone but the birthday kid. They didn’t learn to ride their bike until just this year because they didn’t think they could do it. When we made it to the top of that peak, their whole being changed. They were all smiles, jumping up and down, looking around and already talking about “when can we do another one!” The next day, their confidence levels were through the roof, trying new things, being a little more daring, and going up to kids they didn’t know and starting a conversation.
Seeing how just this one simple thing of hiking to the top of a mountain peak can increase the confidence level of one young person has helped me to choose this as my Puksta Project.

Future Plans for Project: I hope that by showing young people, especially youth who are already looked past because of their skin color or social class standing, that their minds are a powerful tool and if they tell themselves “I can” and out in a little hard work, they can accomplish huge things in life! Maybe I will help to inspire the next president of the US 🙂