Words by Kyle Samuelson
This Spring, STOKED was lucky enough to partner with the House of Vans in Brooklyn to offer our STOKERS an extremely privileged opportunity to skate this amazing indoor park all by ourselves. Vans was kind enough to line up four different dates throughout our STOKED Skateboard season for our kids to tackle this world class park. We felt so lucky to skate the same street obstacles and transition lines as we have seen Vans pros skating in videos and magazines. And with all the pizza and water we needed to keep us fueled, the days were some of the most special STOKED Skateboarding days I have been apart of.
I have a distinct memory of surveying the park; with all of it’s rad art on the walls, the sun shining outside the garage door, kids dropping in on the mini ramp for the first time, coaches cheering wildly as a student nose manny’ed the entire ledge, program manager Romney DJ’ing up on the catwalk, friends taking a breather on the bench to my left, and a new volunteer just smiling ear to ear to my right. “This is dope”, was all he could muster. “Yea man, this is dope”, was all I could respond.
There was something about seeing all of STOKERS riding with such confidence around this hallowed skatepark that really made me realized how special this program is, and in particular, how special our kids are. We are inspiring fearless leaders, and it’s a privilege for me and the rest of our staff and volunteers, to see how exactly that looks. In this case, it looked like a student skating around to pick up empty water bottles and throw them into the recycling bin. It looked like a student so determined to dropping in that after a few falls, her smile served as physical proof of her determination. It looked like every one of our students approaching our hosts Frank and Nick to shake hands and give a sincere thank you. It looked like many things this Skate season, but there was something about seeing it in this space that really illuminated it for me.
We are so lucky to be able to partner with such amazing organizations that offer time, space, money, food, anything to help us create fearless leaders. Vans are fearless leaders themselves and we are so honored to be able to help cultivate more leaders literally under the banner that reads “Off the Wall”.
To help us continue to provide opportunities like these to our youth, sign up to be a STOKED Igniter, and sponsor one of our youth! Join now at stokedigniters.com.