As part of our philanthropic efforts, we headed up to the tough gang-ridden neighborhood of Watts, California to pass out some free bamboo decks and complete skateboards. This was part of our “100 decks for 1” program, which gives 1 skateboard per every 100 we sell to charities that help at-risk youth. It is our honor and privilege to do what we can to help inspire others and hope that others can do the same in their community.
This time we supported an organization called Bridge to Skate - www.bridgetoskate.org who was kind enough to introduce us to some deserving kids. We agreed that we could create a positive experience for the kids and in way make them feel devalued or feel like they are at-risk; for their lives are all they know. They also have a skate contest 1x/month, which was cool to watch all the kids shredding in the new park that was developed thanks to the funding of Tony Hawk’s Standup For Skateparks. I remember being at that fundraiser, so it’s good to see the tangible rewards.
Whenever you tell someone you are going to Compton or Watts, both in S. Central Los Angeles, people often say, “Are you crazy?” The area is notorious for violence and gangs. Nonetheless, what does it say about us as human beings if we only focus our energies on those who can afford our products in safe areas with modern conveniences? Not everyone has the same life’s situation so it is our duty to help others who don’t have it as easy. It’s important that every customer of our products knows that their purchase is helping someone else.
Despite all the fears (created by others) of driving through Watts, the skate park is situated in a very nice section on Central avenue at the WLCAC with other buildings and activities that brings about a strong sense of community. There is no doubt these kids have it tough; some of which have to risk being shot at or being harassed by gangs by simply skating down the road. Nonetheless, they show up and forget about all that when they are skating and that’s the magic of skateboarding! We met a lot of really nice, respectful kids and wonderful supervisors and parents who care a lot about these kids.
As I drove home, I looked at the beautiful expansive view from the 105 freeway which included snow-capped mountains 50+ miles to the East, skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles to the north about 10 miles, Hollywood sign to the Northwest about 15 miles, ocean to the right. I thought to myself, “Do many of these kids ever get to experience this or are they stuck in their bubble of space and time fighting for survival?” At that moment, I felt grateful for the gift of giving. Whether or not any of these kids will become future pro skaters or not, it doesn’t really matter. For this moment, they had fun and some of them got a free new skateboard and the chance to do something positive, something healthy, something fun. I trust the universe will take care of them and fill them with joy during their time on a bamboo skateboard. To me, that’s the real raw beauty of skateboarding.
To help build our completes, we asked the skateboard industry for assistance this time. Unfortunately, not one of the pro distribution companies (Dwindle, BlackBox, Blitz, Syndrome, etc.) were able to step up to provide trucks (hopefully next time!!!), but we did receive some wheels and grip tape from Starnet Production; so thank you Vincent!!