Half our size, twice the lesson

Half our size, twice the lesson : skater kids teach us essence of the sport

This past Saturday, I had the chance to spend the day with Betty Esperanza, founder of Skateboards For Hope. We were all in St-Colomban, alongside many families.

“What ? Where is St-Colomban ? “ you might ask.

Well, the only important thing you need to know is that in this small town, a dedicated dad , Christian Lefebvre, brought to life a mini ramp in his backyard, as well as a skatepark in his basement. I swear, there is literally a skatepark in the basement ! It’s so crazy ! His two sons and their friends have the privilege of making the most out of it all year round. Even the mother, Jacinthe, began skateboarding.. #skateeverydamnday

The whole gang. Photo credit : Betty Esperanza

The story begins with a young woman with a heart of gold : Betty Esperanza. During a trip to Cuba, nearly a decade ago, she gave a skateboard to a young boy and made him promise to share it and take turns using it with his friends. That is exactly what he did ! This same boy is now the pioneer of skateboarding in Cuba and is the one behind the construction of 2 skateparks in the Havanas. More than 300 skateboards have been sent to Cuba since then.

Betty and Yojani Perez in Cuba, with the young boy to whim she gave the first skateboard. Crédit: Skateboardsforhope.com

There you have it : the story of how Skateboards for Hope was born. But the adventure does not stop there !

Betty is currently living her dream : to promote skateboarding as a vehicle of hope. Skateboarding teaches kids how to share, it helps them build up their confidence and perseverance, that in the end, are values that apply to their everyday lives.

Skateboards For Hope is a movement and community. For many, it is also a family. Betty considers herself as the godmother of Skateboards For Hope (godmother of quite a big family I must say). Every year, skateboards are shipped over to Cuba, Uganda, and in the Kanesatake reserve in Quebec, in which the ambassador is Justin Darrow, the first Mohawk skater to have participated in an international leveled skate contest.

Justin Darrow. Photo credit : Jade Chrétien

When we see it on TV or when we read about it in an article, it definitely hits the emotional sweet spot. This being said, it is nothing compared to the wave of admiration and inspiration that I felt after having spent the day with the founder of the mouvement, along with many young skaters and their parents. I would have spent a lot more than just one hour in the car listening to Betty talk about her project with such passion (because we sang the whole car ride home, with the volume to the max).

Around 2pm, we arrived in St-Colomban in the Lefebvre-Mongeau family (the very cool family with the skatepark in their basement). There was a drum set and electric guitars on the balcony, helmets, knee pads, and skateboards scattered all over the place. A few youngsters were skating in the ramp outside, others were riding in the basement. I introduced myself to everyone , they were between the ages of 4 and 8 years old ! So cute !

Jayden and Emeric, ready to go. Photo credit : Jade Chrétien

Photo credit : Jade Chrétien

They held a best trick contest around night time. There were dads playing live music and also a presenter with a mic, just like in the big competitions ! We had quite the show, I was pretty impressed ! It was magic. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that all of these people were there together thanks to Skateboards For Hope : one big family !

It was so amazing to see the passion and determination that these kids skate with. I tried out the mini ramp, but I couldn’t even match up to their level.

Photo credit : Jade Chrétien

I raise my board to Betty Esperanza, Skateboards For Hope and to the whole community that surrounds them !
We will see you at JACKALOPE 2017,the kids will be there to give you quite a show !

Photo credit : Jade Chrétien