Behind the Scenes: Skate After School


Brittany Viar


A single spark can ignite a roaring fire – and a single skateboard can change a child’s life. In 2012, Skate After School was founded as a small-scale community project. With time, it developed into so much more: a nonprofit program providing over 240 children across eight schools in Arizona with skateboarding instruction. When you purchase a bag of our Give Back Blend, a portion of the proceeds directly benefit this one-of-a-kind program. Now through Jan. 1, with code SKATE15, you’ll get 15% off a bag of the Give Back Blend when you check out online.

“I think skating is uniquely suited to serve the needs of students,” said Skate After School Co-Founder Ryan Lay. “It’s not quite a team sport, but is most fun with a community. Everyone can participate at their own level.”

Skate After School relies on volunteers to ensure proper skateboarding education. Volunteers appear at a specific school one day a week and work with the children for an hour, in addition to set-up and takedown. Through donations, the program also supplies students with all the necessary equipment, from skateboards to protective wear. At each lesson, after roll call, students begin guided instruction, focusing on skating basics for the first half and then free skating the remainder of the time.

An organization like Skate After School is not only excellent for learning physical skills, but life skills too.

“Our primary goal is to provide kids a safe place to learn something new and let off a little steam from a long day of school,” Lay said. “Beyond that, we have a core value curriculum we call GRIP (Generosity, Respect, Innovation and Persistence); these are values we feel are inherent to skating. We talk about these values and hand out stickers when kids demonstrate them during the session (for example, helping a friend up when they fall down).”

Through their hard work, some students are awarded scholarships to Woodward West, a summer camp in California. At this camp, they have the opportunity to join other young athletes for a week-long event filled with skateboarding and mentorship.

“Alejandro is a student who we had right at the very beginning, someone who skating didn’t come naturally to,” Lay said. “He and his brother kept coming week after week, and also came with us on our summer camp trip to Woodward. He grew into such a well-rounded high school student with an awesome personality and still participates with us.”

Throughout the year, Skate After School engages in community outreach events at shelters and refugee centers in Phoenix. They donate refurbished skateboards to those in need.

If you feel passionate about Skate After School and are interested in getting involved, the program is always on the lookout for additional volunteers. You can also provide assistance through fundraisers or by participating as a board member.

“Skate After School is important primarily because we’re bringing people together,” Lay said. “Not only for the students, but we have volunteers from all walks of life (not just skaters) who get to build lasting relationships and make a positive impact.”


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