Tony Hawk teaching community through skateboarding


Sara Campos remembers being impressed to start out skateboarding after taking part in Tony Hawk videogames on the California household’s PlayStation 2.

Campos, 23, who makes use of they/them pronouns, by no means dreamed they’d be a part of Tony Hawk’s charitable work. But final month, Campos was chosen for the primary class in The Skatepark Project’s fellowship program.

The program trains 12 various skateboarding fanatics in community organizing and mission administration to have the ability to construct a skatepark of their neighborhoods. Not solely does this system hope to create a brand new gathering place in minority communities. It additionally goals to assist and prepare younger minority leaders.

“It’s virtually like a dream come true,” stated Campos, who used to attract skatepark designs on printer paper to indicate their dad and mom. “Getting to try this once more, however for actual this time, is a type of belongings you did not truly assume would occur.”

It’s virtually precisely what Hawk hoped for when he launched this initiative.

“With this program, we’re participating these children — not solely to advocate for a skatepark for his or her use but in addition to understand that their voices can matter, that they’ll impact change,” Hawk stated. “If you are a metropolis searching for extra tasks which can be inclusive, which can be various, I believe skateboarding is on the high of the record lately.”

Hawk, who received 73 championships by age 25 and was world champion of vert skating for 12 straight years within the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, famous that the game has modified dramatically over time. He now not hears individuals shouting, “White boy sport,” at him whereas he is on his board.

He now sees a wide selection of races and genders when he visits skateparks. It’s a shift that he hopes to foster together with his nonprofit work.

“My model was so mechanical that I turned an outcast inside the skate community, however I did discover my very own sense of id and community on the skatepark,” Hawk stated. “It’s a person pursuit, however you might be bolstered by the community round you. And then they assist you in your endeavors.”

Neftalie Williams, a sociologist and professional on skateboarding tradition in addition to a provost postdoctoral scholar at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, stated he’s excited by the prospect of getting skateparks constructed through the fellowship program.

“These younger individuals care passionately about skateboarding and are actually getting coaching to have the ability to perform their mission and get the work carried out,” Williams stated. “It’s not simply getting the skatepark constructed or getting information inside these younger individuals’s fingers. They’re gonna have generational information that is going to handed down and there are only a few issues that enable that.”

The Skatepark Project — which started because the Tony Hawk Foundation in 2002, funded by Hawk’s $125,000 win on the celeb version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” — noticed the fellowship as a response, of types, to the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. Hawk stated he believes the fellowship can assist handle racial inequality in addition to present alternatives for a brand new technology of minority leaders.

Williams, who can be on The Skatepark Project’s board of administrators, recalled Hawk and his crew saying: “How can we do extra? There’s a racial reckoning that is occurring. There must be extra illustration (in skateboarding) for LGBTQ+ communities. There must be extra work for Indigenous of us. How do you’re taking this platform and actually take it to the subsequent stage, actually empower the subsequent technology?”

Creating a brand new technology of skateboarding advocates who additionally perceive the mechanics of community organizing is a part of the reply.

Nicole Humphrey, program coordinator for the fellowship, needs every fellow to create a skatepark that displays their community and its wants, whereas additionally being economically sustainable. But she additionally needs them to really feel that they’ll apply what they be taught on this fellowship to future tasks past skateboarding, from constructing different public areas of their communities to creating their voices heard on points that concern them.

“What I realized very early is there wasn’t a e book or something to reference,” stated Humphrey, a community organizer who additionally co-founded the nonprofit Black Girls Skate, devoted to supporting minority skate boarders. “There’s nothing prefer it. We’re actually actually constructing it from scratch, and it has been enjoyable. But I believe my entry level was actually simply being within the organizing area.”

Though the Skatepark Project fellowships started solely in September, Campos, a communications and digital advertising and marketing specialist at Utopia PDX, has already realized a lot about what they should do to construct a skatepark in Northeast Portland, one that may be “an area the place when you present up, you simply really feel such as you belong there.”

Campos additionally obtained loads of data they’ll use for Queer Skate PDX, the nonprofit they co-founded to assist ladies, LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming individuals getting began in skateboarding by providing them wanted gear and sponsoring occasions to satisfy different skaters.

“As an individual of shade who lives in a state that’s predominantly white, it makes it somewhat bit more durable to search out community teams which you could relate to,” stated Campos, whose household is from Guam. “I had the thought of attempting to prioritize and uplift all of those marginalized communities, in addition to serving everybody as a complete.”

Campos stated the fellowship has given them a deeper information in regards to the historical past of skateboarding in addition to what the game has carried out for them.

“Skating has introduced me a bunch of associates and connections and community that I’d not have if it wasn’t for skating,” Campos stated, including that additionally they met their companion, Rochelle, through the game. “It’s taught me rather a lot when it comes to falling down and getting again up. It’s taught me rather a lot about braveness.”


Associated Press protection of philanthropy and nonprofits receives assist through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely answerable for this content material.


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