Tag Archives: Youth

STOKED NeON Summer Skate Program

STOKED NeON Summer Skate Program

Words and photos by Brad Williams

When I was first briefed on the STOKED/NeON summer skate program in Brownsville, Brooklyn, I had no idea what to expect from it. I only knew that it sounded like something I definitely wanted to be a part of. Skateboarding isn’t something that comes to mind when one thinks of Brownsville. The neighborhood is too often characterized by the reports of violence and gang/drug-related crimes that frequent local headlines. That’s not the Brownsville I know, but even when I lived there in 2012, it was rare to meet a fellow skater from the neighborhood. Sure, someone was always making use of one of the many spots in the area, but they were mostly from elsewhere, and just made a trip out to skate spots they’d seen in videos. Now, just four years later, Brownsville’s skate scene has grown immensely. With plenty of youths trying to get the most out of their neighborhood on a deck, two trucks, and four wheels.

On the first day of our program, I was genuinely surprised to see the majority of kids we spoke with on recruitment day actually showed up! None of them owned a skateboard, yet some already knew how to ride. A few couldn’t even set foot on a board. Still, with brief instructions and a little encouragement, everyone was pushing and stopping comfortably by the end of day one. By day two, it was clear that the group was having more fun than anyone expected.

The next week we encountered a group of teenage skaters rolling around Betsy Head Park. They were quick to skate over and greet James and I with plenty of questions. After we explained what the program was about, they were eager to join us. Even with the wide range of skill levels, everyone in our group has made notable progress over the past few weeks. Not only are the older participants learning tricks like heelflips and bigspins, but they’re gaining confidence in their abilities on and off the board.

With a multitude of personal backgrounds, everyone stands to gain something unique from this program. Some participants used to skate, but gave it up at some point and got in legal trouble along the way. Others started before the program, and others are just discovering their new abilities this summer! Regardless of background, I know they’ll leave our program with new friends and valuable skills. Despite the area’s reputation, this group contains are some of the most genuine and motivated people I’ve worked with in my five years of teaching skateboarding. I hope to read headlines about pro skaters from Brownsville in the near future.




For more information on STOKED programs click here.

The Future is Now

The Future is Now

Words by Katie Ferraro:

The way we do business is changing. Social acceptance is changing. And the way our youth show up to the world is changing.

The youth of today are the adults and decision makers of tomorrow. Much like the millennial generation is shaping the world we live in now, the next generation of youth coming up today are likely to make an even more significant impact than us 20 somethings are making right now.


We have an amazing opportunity in front of us. We have the opportunity to be the mentors, the leaders, and the inspiration that guides this new generation. That is a powerful place to be in and much like we have taught our youth for ten years, and continue to do now at STOKED, we accept this challenge with no fear.

In a study conducted by Fuse Marketing, an agency which specializes in Teen, Young Adult, and  Millennial marketing, they found that the major driving force behind youth ages 13-18 (the ages served by STOKED) is social change. And their biggest concern? Education.

At STOKED, our main goal is to provide our students with education around endless categories including art, brand development, and business. We believe that giving students the possibilities to stretch their limits, to expose them to avenues they might not have known existed, and to empower them to celebrate their unique talents will give them the tools to create a bright future for themselves.


Youth are impressionable beings that don’t always discover or reach their dreams in a traditional classroom. And that’s okay. While the STOKED after school program is taught in a classroom setting, we combine that with a host of activities out side of the classroom, giving them a first hand look at the world around them.

Additionally, with our STOKED to Serve program, we show our youth how they can make a positive impact in the world and have fun doing so. After all, this is their world and in a few short decades, it will be up to them to protect it. And, according to the study, giving back is something they have already committed to.

Stoked to Serve

For example, when considering brand loyalty and trust, it was found that, “After learning a brand supports a social cause or is socially responsible, Gen Z (13-18 year olds) is 85% more likely to trust the brand more.”

85%. Think about that number.

These are the youth we serve. This is the future and we are so proud to be a part of not only changing lives, but changing the world.

Are you ready to change the world? Volunteer with us!

The Impact of Surfing with STOKED

The Impact of Surfing with STOKED

By Julian Canery, STOKED Alum, Syracuse University ’17

I think that the best moments in life are when you do the unthinkable. I always tell people that I live to see new things and take on new challenges. For me personally, there’s nothing more fulfilling than to live a life filled with spontaneity and adventure. Everyday should be taken with a desire to learn new things, to visit new places, and to make new friends.
If you were to ever ask a young teenager from Brooklyn to hop on a board and surf, smack in the middle of Queens, he’d most definitely look at you like you’re crazy. Coming from an environment surrounded by pavement and concrete, it’s almost unthinkable to envision surfing in New York City. But if you can think it, it’s possible.
I remember being 17 when I first went to Rockaway Beach to surf with STOKED. With that being my first time ever surfing (and my first time ever taking the A train to Far Rockaway for any reason), I didn’t know what to expect. But as out of the loop as I was, I felt nothing but bliss the entire day. I remember seeing STOKED’s surf shack for the first time, and feeling like I wasn’t even in New York City anymore. To this day, surfing with STOKED has been one of the most surreal experiences of my life.


There aren’t many experiences that even come close to learning how to surf for the first time. If you were to ask me, the best part of my surfing experience was the very first time I stepped foot on a surfboard. I remember my heart beating ferociously in excitement — and every time I fell off the board I would run out the water as fast as I could, just to run back in. The very first time I successfully glided across the calm waves, I felt a sense of euphoria – almost as if I was flying. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. For those odd moments that I soared across the water, I felt limitless. What also caught my attention as a part of surfing with STOKED were the mentors. They were so patient with me my first time surfing, and there was never a point where I felt shy or nervous around them. Because of the support that my mentors gave me, I was able to focus completely on the board and the waves.

In retrospect, surfing was able to bring out a side of me I never knew existed. I was able to think the unthinkable in that present moment, and for a young Haitian American living in Brooklyn, those moments were so different from my everyday life. Not many people can say that they’ve been surfing, and I haven’t met anyone outside of STOKED that’s been able to say they’ve ever surfed in New York City. I will always have a large amount of respect for STOKED, because they give students the ability to have experiences they wouldn’t normally have in their day-to-day lives.


Snow Mentor 2013

Snow Mentor is a big part of the youth development work we do at STOKED. In fact, Stoked Steve’s first dream for STOKED was to create a snowboard mentor program for inner city youth.

It’s exciting to be living the dream, as STOKED is now entering its eighth year of Snow Mentor!

Snow Mentor is a unique way for Stokers to meet positive role models, get active, and explore their boundaries–both physically and personally–in a safe, supportive community.

If you are 24-years-old or older, and you’re an advanced intermediate to advanced snowboarder, read on to find out more about our Snow Mentor program for disadvantaged youth.

STOKED Los Angeles

All program days fall on Sundays and are full-day commitments. Dates for 2013 are as follows:

Snow Mentor 1: 1/27
Snow Mentor 2:  2/10
Snow Mentor 3:  2/24
Snow Mentor 4:  3/03
Snow Mentor 5:  3/10
Snow Mentor 6: 3/24

What a Program Day Looks Like:

Stoked employees Kat and Charlie will take a bus with roughly 50 Stokers and volunteers to Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake, California, approximately 115 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The normal ratio of adult to Stoker is 1:2 or 1:3.

Stoked Kat and Stoked Charlie will lead the program day, weaving together a life skill — like healthy risk-taking — with the snowboard mentoring. Expect to commit the whole day to the program as we leave downtown LA by 5:45am and return by 6:30pm.

How to Get Involved:

New volunteers must submit an online application by Monday, December 3. Pending approval of application, volunteers must attend orientation on Saturday, December 8. On that date there will be a volunteer core values training for new volunteers at 10am and Snow Mentor Orientation / Simulation at 12pm, both at STOKED Los Angeles “HQ” in downtown LA.

Questions about volunteering in Los Angeles should be directed to Stoked Charlie (charlie@stoked.org).


All program days fall on Saturdays and are full-day commitments. Program dates for 2013 are as follows:

Snow Mentor 1: 1/12
Snow Mentor 2: 1/26
Snow Mentor 3: 2/2
Snow Mentor 4: 2/9
Snow Mentor 5: 2/16
Snow Mentor 6: 3/2

What a Program Day Looks Like:

We fill a bus with about 54 Stokers, mentoring pairs, and volunteers and drive 2.25 hours north of the city to Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills. 

STOKED has a Snow Barn at Belleayre, which was generously donated by the Young Family Foundation. The Snow Barn houses all of our snow equipment. Mentors are welcome to use our gear but may also bring their own. A typical day kicks off with a theme that applies to life and snowboarding. Throughout the day, we explore the theme (past examples are overcoming obstacles, reflection, and friendship) and of course, we snowboard! The normal ratio of adult to Stoker is 1:2 or 1:3.

We’re looking for certain items to be donated, which are men’s boots sizes 9-12, bindings, and snow pants.

How to get involved:

New volunteers must fill out our online application. Applications are due no later than Monday, December 3. Pending approval, volunteers will be invited to our mandatory orientation on Tuesday, December 11, from 7pm-8pm at the STOKED New York office in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Questions about volunteering in New York should be directed to Stoked Lily (lily@stoked.org).

If you now find yourself thinking ‘This is awesome! I’ll join and get to it soon,’ make sure to submit your application! Our youth are ready to hit the slopes and make things happen, so sign up to be a Snow Mentor today. It’s going to be a great season.