Girls skateboard during the all-girl Skate Rising event at 91 West Skatepark in Peoria, Ariz., on Saturday April 15, 2017.
The ripping and flipping and sliding approaches airport-loud. Watch your step. Girls focused on where they’re going may run over your toes.
Children fall. Unmanned skateboards zip by. Under the safety gear, sweat drips.
Everyone agrees. Moms, dads, girls ages 5 to 12, coaches: This is perfect.
The all-girl skateboarding group Skate Rising takes over this indoor Peoria skate park every third Saturday.
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The group formed in January and meets at Peoria’s 91 West Skatepark. It’s free and open to any skill level. As part of the two-hour gathering, the girls receive skateboarding instruction and join in a monthly community-service project.
During April’s Skate Rising event, about two dozen girls learned about Pay it Forward Day on Friday, April 28, from Valley resident and U.S. ambassador for the day Darlene Santore. They made bracelets with charms to give away on that day.
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While the group is a way to introduce girls to what will be an Olympic sport in 2020, the goal is practice over perfection and service over self.
Path to empowerment
The group uses skateboarding as a path to girl empowerment. And the life-lessons learned are all part of the sweet ride.
Here are 5:
1. We all fall
When her 5-year-old took up skateboarding but had no one to skate with, Laveen mom Mary Gardner began searching Instagram. She found Skate Rising, based out of Encinitas, Calif., and became the Arizona coordinator.
Both Gardner and her daughter, Rylie, were enthusiastic but apprehensive about the sport on wheels.
“I was very protective and very cautious. She was very dramatic every time she would get hurt. We’ve both learned that you can fall down, and you can get back up. It’s not the end of the world,” Gardner said.
2. Winners get back up
After seven months of lessons and practice at Skate Rising, Rylie’s got skills. She no longer fears a 7-foot drop in.
“It feels good,” she said. “Exciting.”
She makes mistakes. “You don’t skate through puddles because (the skateboard) gets rusty.”
When she falls? She tries again.
Southern California mom Calli Kelsay founded Skate Rising a year and a half ago, when she noticed a growing confidence in her skater girls — ages 9, 7 and 4. She attributes it to lessons learned while skating, like “pushing through fear, falling and getting back up.”
3. Life is a numbers game
The two-hour free event is full of high-fives, clapping and cheers as 91 West Skatepark coaches and older skaters help teach the younger ones.
Mia Lovell, 10, is a sponsored, competitive skater. But she attends the Saturday event with many who have never skateboarded, said mom Stacey Lovell, of Phoenix, because of the spirit of camaraderie. And the skatepark’s owner said Mia could serve as inspiration to others by showing what they could do.
“There’s this philosophy here that you keep trying,” said Stacey Lovell. You don’t give up. You may have to try something a ton of times. Sometimes life is a numbers game, and (Mia) carries that into her life.”
4. Turn out, help out
Mike Crawford, 91 West Skatepark owner, said hosting the free event one Saturday a month was “a no brainer.” One reason is that girls lack opportunities to skate with a group of peers, many who are beginners.
“Going to a skate park alone can be intimidating,” Crawford said. “If you go out there and get discouraged, are you really going to keep going? Probably not.”
The other reason is that each Skate Rising helps girls learn about the needs in their community.
“I can tell you, we’re going to be doing this for a long time,” Crawford said. “It’s an amazing thing to do for the girls who skateboard and the community.”
One month, the girls signed anti-bullying pledges and stuffed 48 backpacks with school supplies to be given to Skate After School, which provides underserved youths with skateboarding instruction and donated equipment.
In April, the girls grabbed their boards and sat as they listened to the U.S. Ambassador of Pay it Forward Day speak about small kindnesses.
“It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be the simplest thing. Be kind every single day,” Santore said. “The world needs more of us being kind.”
5. Fashion: It’s a personal choice
The required uniform is: wrist guards, helmets, elbow guards and knee pads. After that, girls are free to express themselves — in T-shirts with slogans, in all pink, in all black or anything else they want.
Details: Skate Rising – Phoenix. 10 a.m.-noon, the third Saturday of the month. Next gathering: Saturday, May 20. 91 W. Skatepark, 8550 N. 91st Ave., Unit #54, Peoria. exposureskate.org/skate-rising/.
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