There's no skateboarding in jail... until Now.
In the fall of 2017 we had an idea that sounded crazy to most, but was birthed out of a deep sadness and need for kids who most have discounted or forgotten - kids who have been told they are their choices and who are often considered a lost cause. Where others saw nothing, we saw a flicker of light. We saw the discounted and forgotten and had a desire to give them back their dignity and remind them that they are loved, valued and worthy of belonging.
We dreamed of starting an extension of Flow in the Juvenile Hall system. We know that everyone has a backstory, and maybe that backstory played a heavy role in making certain choices, and those choices ended that kid up in Juvenile Hall. That doesn’t mean that those kids are those choices or that they aren’t worthy of love and belonging. We believe that God loves everyone and every kid deserves the chance to be a kid.
The heart and the vision for this unique program is to bring the joy of skateboarding and BMX to incarcerated youth, so that they might be a kid again. Our goal is to share the fun and the challenges that skateboarding and BMX add to our lives and to help students positively process the challenges they are faces while incarcerated. A lot of these kids actually have amazing risk assessment skills which have been misdirected. They of all kids need something to challenge their bodies and minds in a way that provides positive risk and brings hope back to an at times hopeless place.
With that in mind, we created this behavioral initiative program. It is the only one of its kind. We have been allowed to bring in a portable skate park (ramps & rails), bikes, skateboards, pads, helmets and shoes for qualified students to use during program hours. The students must earn the privilege. In the short time it has been running we have seen such excitement and positive feedback from the youth and staff. For some kids, these time slots for skating and riding are the only times the staff sees them smile. For a moment they can forget about where they are or what they have done and remember the good things in life and why good choices are important.
In line with our desire to show unwavering love to kids, we felt it was so important to get brand new equipment for the Juvenile Hall program - not second best or old stuff we found. We wanted to collect new items donated with the knowledge of exactly what they would be used for and who they would be used by. Our aim was to reinforce the truth that these kids matter, that they aren’t their choices, and that they are being seen. We couldn’t do this on our own.
We were amazed by the outpouring of support for these kids. As word began to spread, our Juvenile Hall program gained significant traction in the BMX and skateboard industry. We became well supplied by the generous support of industry leaders. Steve VanDoren, President of Vans has supported our program with 30 pairs of brand new skate shoes so that students can learn to skate and ride in skate shoes rather than jail issued slippers. NHS, Santa Cruz Skateboards, Independent Trucks, Ricta Wheels, and Mob Grip have supplied all of our skateboards. SE Bikes, Haro Bikes, and Family Cycling Center keep us rolling on new BMX bikes. It is through this amazing support and the support of the community that we are able to keep furthering our mission and reminding kids that they are loved, seen, and that they belong.