Freedom Skate Park partnered with a cadre of companies to help 25 students learn how to skate on Saturday, Nov. 20. Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora joined representatives from Freedom Skate ParkSuper Skate PosseDogwood Skate ShopVansSanta Cruz Skateboards, and Shred Co. to provide free skateboards, Vans shoes, Pro-Tec helmets, and lessons to a group of 25 underserved youth from the Trenton area enrolled in Sprout U School of the Arts.

The event featured Evan Dittig, founder and executive director at Shed Co, who taught kids how to ride and shred a skateboard. “My company Shred Co came together and taught a few lessons… basically, how to polish, how to ride, how to do some basic tricks, how to roll down some ramps. Overall, these kids learn so fast like they were like pushing right off the bat…super coordinated, able to ride.”

“What I see are doors opening up for kids in all avenues of their life. Now they are having this realization that ‘I can do things that feel impossible.’ Then that translates to school, that translates to jobs, that translates to anything they want to do in life,” said Jake McNichol,  Founder and Executive Director of Freedom. “That’s a new level of confidence that they can achieve something they can do something meaningful.”

Freedom Skate Park’s Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program is a series of free, weekly skateboarding events at a pop-up indoor skate park located at the historic Roebling Wire Works building. The goal of this new program doesn’t stop with a one-time lesson. Kids in this program will show up an hour before every week and receive private lessons on skateboarding. “So what we want to do is not just give kids a board one time… we want to give them a board and then allow them to continue skating and continue engaging with it,” McNichol said.

Saturday’s event brought a group of 25 youth enrolled in Trenton Sprout U School of the Arts to Freedom for a skateboarding demonstration featuring Santa Cruz Skateboards professional skateboarder Tom Asta and team riders from local skateboard shop Dogwood Skate Shop, as well as lessons provided by Shred Co.

“The Freedom team uses skateboarding to teach youth in our city important life lessons about thinking creatively, setting goals, and following through on those goals while also giving them the chance to do something fun. This puts them on the path towards success while continuing to build a healthy, safe Capital City community,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. “Today’s event provided that opportunity for these kids, and giving each of them aboard, shoes, and a helmet to take home means they’ll be able to keep practicing and share our lessons with their friends.”

Thanks to generous donations from Vans, Santa Cruz Skateboards, and Pro-Tech Helmets, every child who participated in the event took home their very own skateboard, as well as a brand new pair of Vans, skate shoes, and a Pro-Tec helmet. Providing shoes made explicitly for skating is essential because they better protect youths’ feet and are made of more durable materials designed to withstand the specific wear and tear that results from skating.

Danielle Miller, Headmaster of Sprouts IU School, explained that the donations and equipment are significant, the best part of the day was seeing her children light up with joy, well-riding skateboards. “I think I was most impressed with them relearning how to skateboard or being or again. We haven’t been here since last winter because it stopped writing for the spring. So it was like to see their eyes light up and to see them excited about being here,” Miller said.