More than 200 skateboarders of all ages and backgrounds joined world-renowned professional skaters Ryan Sheckler, Chaz Ortiz, and Fabrizio Santos at Trenton Social for the first ever Trenton Go Skateboarding Day organized by Freedom and The Sheckler Foundation. The event celebrated Freedom winning one of 10 Sheckler Foundation “Be the Change” grants. The $10,000 grant will support Freedom’s work to provide safe, indoor spaces for youth and young adults to learn the vital life lessons skateboarding teaches and to connect with a diverse, supportive community even when it is too rainy, cold, or dark to skate outside.
“Skateboarding is such an incredible activity because it not only keeps kids active and doing something positive with their time, but it also teaches critical life lessons about thinking creatively, setting goals, and following through on those goals no matter how difficult it might be. At the same time, it creates such a strong, diverse community. We are all family, because we all skate.” said Ryan Sheckler. “The Sheckler Foundation is proud to support Freedom’s work to improve outcomes for youth here in Trenton and to strengthen New Jersey’s skate community.”
Currently, there are no skate parks in Trenton and no public indoor skate parks in the entire state of New Jersey. This means there are no safe, legal places for youth and young adults in Trenton to learn the important lessons skating teaches and there is nowhere for skateboarders in New Jersey to practice their skills when it is too rainy, cold, or dark to skate outside.
The event which took place on June 29 kicked off with a skate jam in Sonny Vereen Park, where Freedom partners with local community organization Friends of Amtico Square run weekly skateboarding clinics for youth in East Trenton, and then moved to Trenton Social, where Freedom’s custom-built indoor half pipe allowed the skating to continue despite an afternoon thunderstorm. In addition to an open skate jam for skaters of all ages and skill levels, the event also featured a youth clinic for beginners, live musical performances by local bands, and a live painting by Trenton-based visual artist Lank.
The Sheckler Foundation grant will support Freedom’s Trenton Winter Skateboarding Program, which brings a pop-up skate park to the historic Roebling Wire Works building in downtown Trenton for weekly Open Skate sessions and other events that bring together artists, musicians, and skateboarders. Last year’s events brought more than 450 unique visitors to Trenton and boasted an average attendance of nearly 100. All Freedom events are open to the public and free for Trenton residents.
The “Be the Change” grant awarded Saturday is specifically earmarked for an expansion of Freedom’s Board Giveaway events, which provide skateboarding equipment for youth who otherwise would not be able to afford to skate. In addition to equipment, Freedom volunteers also teach youth the basics of skateboarding, including how to push, jump (or “ollie” in skate lingo), and ride down ramps. Thanks to The Sheckler Foundation’s support, Freedom will be able to give away 200 complete skateboards over the course of 4 giveaway events this winter.
“Today’s event was a perfect encapsulation of what Freedom is all about. We had skaters of all ages and backgrounds from all around Trenton and the tri-state area together pushing themselves to learn new tricks, celebrating each other’s successes, and bonding over their shared passion. And it all happened despite the rain because we had an indoor spot!” said Jake McNichol, Founder and Executive Director of Freedom. “This was an incredible day for skaters in Trenton and for the city as a whole. We are all so thankful for The Sheckler Foundation’s support and look forward to putting the Be the Change grant to good use during our Winter Skate Program.”