STOKED to Serve - A Coach's View

Words and photos by Alex Bruno At STOKED, we pride ourselves on providing a unique sense of community for our students and mentors so it only made sense that our first service project of the Spring took place at East Side Community High School. Our day started out in the garden next to East Side’s schoolyard, where students and mentors worked hand in hand to plant flowers along the entrance way and clear weeds and vines from the garden’s brick path. The garden, previously a bus depot, was built by the students and faculty of all the schools in the J.H.S. 60 building and has stood the test of time thanks to the help of organizations like Common Ground Compost, who we were thankful to have by our side. This piece of greenery is wedged between a mosque and the school; truly showing the East Village’s vibrant and diverse community.

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The second half of the day was spent skateboarding in East Side’s schoolyard. Known as 12th and A in the skateboarding community, this spot has been home to everything from contests to major video parts by skateboarders from around the world. Just last Fall, HUF Footwear, founded by New York’s own Keith Hufnagel, visited the schoolyard to put on a demo for the students and community. All the team members donated new boards that are still used by the students in East Side’s STOKED program. Mark F. and Tom M., Principal and Assistant Principal of East Side, have been essential in opening their doors to the skateboarding community and quickly realized the potential of teaching and mentoring through skateboarding within school.

As students began stretching and warming up for the session, we were joined by students from University Settlement Beacon. Beacon is run out of East Side and provides a sense of community for the students around the neighborhood. STOKED recently partnered with Beacon for a Saturday Skate program for the Spring and this was the first day Beacon students would meet and skate with their mentors.

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From fixing the quarter pipe to skateboarding relay races, it is safe to say everyone enjoyed the first STOKED to Serve of the Spring. We end all of our weekend programing with a STOKED circle, a gathering in which students and mentors reflect on the day and give each other what we like to call kudos, or compliments for their hard work and energy. This STOKED circle had an added bonus and surprise for the kids, as STOKED alumni and Uncle Funky Skateboards affiliate Taimir provided longboards for a few select students who really put their best foot forward during the day. All in all, it was a day where students and mentors worked hand in hand to give back to their school, community and city.

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To get involved with STOKED as a mentor or volunteer, go here to learn more!