Skateboards for Hope finds gently used skateboards for young people and gives them to children who don’t have wheels.
Skateboarder Justin Darrow said he wouldn’t have started skating without hand-me-down gear. That’s what inspired him to get involved with the program.
He said he’s learned a lot more from skateboarding than how to do tricks.
"Such subtle things such as patience, perseverance, hard work, commitment, battling your doubts and fears," he said.
The program’s founder got the idea while she was skateboarding in Cuba. Betty Esperanza said a small boy was watching her intently, so she decided to teach him how to skateboard.
“He had so much talent that I decided to leave him the skateboard,” Esperanza said. “And I promised him that every year, I would come back with more and more. And that’s what I did.”
Esperanza has sent three hundred skateboards to Cuba. There are now two skateparks in Havana, set up by those who received skateboards from Esperanza.
Skateboards for Hope sends decks to Cuba and Uganda. In the spring, it will also send some skateboards for the community of Kanehsatake.
On a roll
In Montreal, the program is getting some support from the all-girl skateboard group, Les Vagabonnes.
The group is one of the top-ranked in the world.
One of the group’s members, Annie Guglia, goes through about ten skateboards per year.
Now she’s planning on donating her boards, and asking other skateboarders to do the same.
"I had the luck that my parents could buy me a skateboard when I was young. But I guess if they didn't have the money or they didn't want to, I would have never started skating."