“Compassion through Service. Empowerment through Skateboarding.”
This is the motto of Skate Rising, a nonprofit youth program created in 2016 by Calli Kelsay, who wanted to give back to the community in a way that was also educational.
Each month, a free event is held for girls who want to learn how to skate while also serving their community. The girls learn about their community, participate in a service project and then take part in a skating lesson taught by professionals.
“Calli saw many positive life lessons come from her own children learning to skate. As they skated, they fell, over and over again, and chose to get back up. They pushed through their own fear as they progressed,” said Stacy Lovell, program manager for Skate Rising.
Exposure Skate, the nonprofit that runs Skate Rising, got its start in 2012. During that time, women’s events were almost entirely removed from competitive skateboarding contests. As a response, Pro Skateboarder Amelia Brodka created “Underexposed,” a documentary highlighting women’s skateboarding.
Brodka’s documentary inspired philanthropists Armando De La Libertad and Lesli Cohen to take action, so they created an all-female skateboarding event named Exposure. The event was repeated and has grown into a nonprofit with 22 locations all over the world, from the United States to Argentina and New Zealand.
To run the monthly Skate Rising events, Lovell, along with Janthavy Norton and Natalie Das of Exposure Skate work from a lesson plan to collaborate with charities in Phoenix to create a learning experience for the girls who participate in the events.
Events include making kits for the homeless, collecting art supplies for New Pathways for Youth, writing encouragement cards, commit to kindness contracts, making vision boards to pursue dreams, collecting purses and deodorant for Dress for Success, Making banners and donating money to disabled soccer team AZ Heat and collecting food for police, firefighters and EMTs.
“There is such a need for strong and confident girls in the world that we wanted as many people as possible to try it and learn these life lessons early in life. The service aspect also came about after seeing what would benefit the world around us,” Lovell added.
Professional skaters from groups including Skate True, Kids That Rip Mesa and Las ChicAZ close out each event by teaching the girls skateboarding tips and tricks.
Events are geared toward girls from ages 4 to 18 and are held the third Saturday of the month. For more information, visit exposureskate.org/skaterising/phoenix.