Author: Troy Björkman

Skateboarding’s International Non-profit Organizations

With skateboarding’s inherent blend of physicality, creativity, entrepreneurialism and international community it is perhaps unsurprising that non-profit organizations have long been a part of the sport’s communal spirit. However, in the last decade or so, these skateboarding charities and social enterprises have become increasingly numerous, active and global in scope. Here’s a rundown of what this movement is all about. The players involved, the tools, activities and goals they employ, as well as tips on how to get involved.


From national to international focus

Local skateboarding non-profit organizations have been around for a while. The Tony Hawk Foundation, for instance, which funds skateparks for underprivileged American youth, was established over 15 years ago. To-date, the organization has awarded over $5.7 million to public skatepark projects all around the US. Nibwaakaawin, similarly, is a non-profit that focuses on empowering American indigenous communities through skateboarding, and has been active in the US since 2006.

Yet in the past decade or so a marked shift has occurred in this movement. Whereas these first non-profits tended to focus on their immediate social environments, many organizations today are increasingly active across national boundaries, alleviating social problems through skateboarding in regions thousands of miles from their home communities.

Some of these organizations, such as Make Life Skate Life or Skate-aid, fundraise and build free skateparks for kids in Third World countries. Others, such as Cuba Skate or Boards for Hope, provide boards and equipment to regions where they are simply not available. But what unites them is the tool they employ to create social change, namely skateboarding.

As of 2017, these organizations have built free community skateparks for kids in Ethiopia, Bolivia, Palestine, Rwanda, India, Peru, Nepal and Jordan, just to mention a few. They have also employed skateboarding as a tool to enrol children into formal education, such as Skateistan’s award-winning projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.


New projects and players on the scene

While a lot has been achieved in only a few short years, these non-profits don’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, Make Life Skate Life is currently building a park in Morocco. And they also have a project lined up in North-Eastern Iraq for March 2018.

New skateboarding-related non-profits are also constantly emerging. The Community Collective, for instance, started just a few years ago, but has already managed to fundraise and construct free skateparks for communities in Myanmar, India and Nepal.

FarawaySkateshops, an online platform dedicated to emerging skate scenes in the Global South, similarly launched only this fall. The platform offers great resources for both skate communities in need and people wishing to get involved in the movement. Additionally, they also help individuals and organizations fundraise for skateparks and programmes. And support grassroots skateboarding entrepreneurship through outreach and capacity building.

One of the greatest contributions of FarawaySkateshops is undoubtedly its recently published listings of volunteering opportunities abroad with skate-related non-profit organizations. They update these continuously, so if you’re adventurous and want to help out, make sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.


A cause worthy of support

Through building skateparks, handing out boards, and combining skate lessons with social and educational curricula, skateboarding non-profits employ the sport around the world as a means to create positive change. They work to create solidarity amongst people suffering from economic inequality, gender discrimination, or social exclusion. They provide the joy of skateboarding to communities where few other outlets for play and community socialization exist. In short, these organizations spread skateboarding to disadvantaged communities. And in so doing, promote the widely beneficial benefits that the sport naturally provides.

If you’d like to support the efforts of these organizations there’s a range of ways to do so. As non-profits, these ventures rely on publicity and public awareness for support and funding. So simply sharing and liking their pages and content can go a long way.

These organizations also depend on voluntary contributions to run all their programmes. And as such, donations is undeniably the most important and direct way you can make a difference.

Finally, you might want to think about getting involved in a skateboarding non-profit yourself. FarawaySkateshops currently lists open volunteering positions in Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia, Tanzania and Palestine.

Volunteering as a skateboard instructor for kids in Peru doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

7 Interesting Facts you Probably Didn’t know about the History of Skateboarding

Skateboarding traces its roots back to 1950s in California when surfers attached roller skate wheels to boards in order to surf the streets on wave-free days. But a lot has happened with the sport since that time. Here’s a list of some of the most interesting facts you probably didn’t know about the history of skateboarding.


1. Clay and Metal Wheels

In the 1950s and 1960s, before urethane was invented, skateboard wheels were primarily made out of clay or metal. Prone to cracks and corrosion these wheels were very unsafe and led to many injuries. And the dangers were exacerbated further by the fact that skateboarding was primarily a barefoot sport in these first decades. The skaters in the 50s and 60s were tough all right.

Patti McGee graced the cover of the Skateboarder Magazine in October 1965.


2. The First Female Pro

The first female professional skateboarder was Patti McGee, who turned pro in 1964. She is perhaps most well known for setting the world record for the fastest girl on a skateboard when she was only 19. Understandably, Patti was also the first female ever to be included in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.


3. The Ollie

The invention of the ollie, a skateboarding maneuver where the rider slams his foot on the tail of the skateboard and simultaneously jumps into the air, revolutionized the sport completely. The trick is credited to and named after Alan “Ollie” Gelfand, and was invented in 1978.


4.  A banned sport for 11 years 

The use, ownership, sale, and advertising of skateboards were forbidden in Norway between 1978 and 1989 because of the perceived dangers of the sport. During the 11-year long ban, skateboarders had to smuggle boards from Germany and built ramps in the woods in order to avoid confrontation with the police.


5. Have you seen him? The Search for Animal Chin

The 1987 skateboard film “Search for Animal Chin” is perhaps the most celebrated film in skateboarding culture. It was also one of the first skateboarding films to have a solid plot, rather than solely a collection of tricks, stunts, and music. Produced by the Bones Brigade, the film features legendary skaters such as Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero and Lance and Mountain on their quest to find a wise old man called Won Ton “Animal” Chin. Other widely celebrated skateboarding films include Thrasin’ (1986) and Lords of Dogtown (2005).


A corporal carrying a board as part of the Urban Warrior ’99 program.

6. The 1980s’ dip 

The popularity of skateboarding plummeted in the late 1980s to early 1990s, and with the decline most skateparks closed down. Most historians agree that it was precisely this lack of parks that eventually lead to development of modern street skateboarding, where curbs, stairs, handrails and the likes assumed a central focus in the sport.


7. Skateboarding in the military?

In the late 1990s, the United States Marine Corps tested the usefulness of skateboards for urban warfare as part of the Urban Warrior ’99 programme. According to the program, the skateboard’s special purpose was “for maneuvering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire”.


So there you have it, our picks for the top 7 of the most interesting facts from skateboarding’s long history. Feel like I missed something? Let us know in the comment section below!


Did We Miss Any Interesting Facts? Comment Your Most Cool Fact Below…


A Beginner’s Guide to Skatepark Etiquette

Skateboarding is uniquely creative and independent because the sport doesn’t have any traditional rules or regulations. However, a certain unwritten etiquette for skateparks does exist. This informal code of conduct helps minimize the risk for injury and ensure that everyone at the park has a good time. So how should you behave at the skatepark? Here are the most important points to consider.


1. “Snaking“

“Snaking” is the single most common cause for both frustration and collisions at every skatepark. It’s when you steal someone else’s turn, dropping in before another person who had been waiting for longer than you. It also sometimes refers to dropping in when someone is still in the middle of their run. Essentially, snaking is the skatepark version of cutting in line. No one likes a snake!

The basic guideline is simple: wait for your turn and let everyone finish their runs. This way everyone gets the chance to try their skills at the park. And if you accidentally snake someone, don’t worry, it happens! Just make sure to get out of their way as soon as possible. And an apology doesn’t hurt.


2. Watch other riders

When you’re waiting for your turn to go, always think about whether or not you’re in someone else’s way. Standing in the middle of the skatepark is typically a big no- no as it tends to be the most heavily trafficked area. You might want to wait for your turn by the edge of the park instead.


3. Know where it’s ok to sit

When you’re not on your board and want to sit down somewhere, make sure that the spot you choose is appropriate. That concrete bench looks perfect, right? Well typically it’s actually not. It’s made for skateboarding, not sitting. You’re best bet is to sit outside of the skatepark all together, but if you really want to stay and follow the action, try taking a look where other skateboarders are sitting to get an idea of a good place.


4. Dropping in

That metal tubing along the upper edges of ramps is called coping, and it allows a rider to grind and stall on the ramp. When you’re waiting for your turn it is important that you don’t hang your board here, as it might be in the way of other riders. Generally, standing a foot or two behind the coping is considered respectful. And it’s also a lot safer.


5. “One upping”

When you see someone trying a trick that you know that you can do,don’t roll up that same moment and do it in front of them. That’s just rude. Why not offer to help the person with the trick instead!


6. “Board!”

It’s not uncommon for boards to go shooting into one direction or another. If this happens to your board, make sure to yell out “board!” if there are any people in the vicinity. Getting a board in the shin at 20 mph stings, so there’s no point in holding your breath or being shy. Feel free to scream at the top your lungs. It’s appreciated.

Kennesaw, GA, USA – November 24, 2013: A veteran skateboarder wipes out in the big bowl during “Old Man Sundays,” and shouts “Board!” at the  new Kennesaw Skateboard Park.

7. Be friendly!

No one likes a sourpuss, so say hi! Let others go first. Make friends. Congratulate people on tricks. Basically just treat people the way you would like to be treated. It’s more fun everyone!


Keeping these 7 rules of the skatepark will make the skateboard park a happier place for everyone!

Share this article— especially with new skaters– and let your buddies know !