Together We Can Serve More
Photograph by Sarah Williams | Words by Katie Ferraro
I didn’t grow up skateboarding, in fact, it was quite the opposite. In rural parts of the Midwest in the 90s and 00s, skateboarding was viewed as an unruly, almost criminal activity. Skateboarders were the “bad kids with no direction.” But not having known anything about skateboarding beyond this, I was determined to educate myself.
As an intern in Los Angeles, I was exposed to the world of skateboarding and action sports in general, and I quickly learned that my influences were so wrong. I was welcomed into the industry with open arms. Skateboarders and industry pros were nothing but kind and accommodating to my ignorance. They taught me through their actions that this world is fun and creative and supportive. And now more than ever, inclusive.
I pursued a career in this industry because I wanted to learn and expand my experiences. I wanted to have a platform to defend the naysayers. And when the opportunity came to join STOKED as a Coach and now to use my communication expertise to grow the organization, I grabbed on tight. I knew I wanted to do work that was bigger than me, but I didn’t know how much it would completely change how I viewed the world.
If I’m honest though, I was really uncomfortable when I started as a Coach. High school kids are smart and intuitive. They can see right through you. I was out of my element for more reasons than one and I was so afraid that they wouldn’t take me seriously because of it. I surrendered back to my old stories of these being the “troubled” kids and I wasn’t sure I could handle it.
Again, I was was proven wrong. The kids we support, while underserved and in some pretty tough situations, are some of the most kind hearted, amazing kids I’ve had the privilege of meeting. They humble me every day and remind me that life isn’t about the cards you’re dealt, but how you view them. I’ve seen these kids grow into exceptional young people with a purpose in life, most of the time with some element of giving back to others. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
I believe that every person on this Earth has a purpose, and sometimes it takes a simple activity like skateboarding to realize what that is. Currently, we’re serving about 150 students in Los Angeles through 10 STOKED cohorts. Now we are in the running to earn a 100K grant through LA2050 to expand our impact to 1000 more kids in LA at 15 new sites. As part of STOKED Skate Club, we want to change the lives of 1000 more students in Los Angeles by teaching them how to set goals and pursue them with perseverance, determination, and resiliency all through skateboarding.
If you believe in this mission, we need you to make it happen! All you have to do is head over to http://bit.ly/VoteForSTOKED100k cast your vote for STOKED and share it with your network to help us achieve this goal! Together, we can make a huge impact and give the gift of skateboarding to deserving kids.