Where Can A Skateboard Take You?steemCreated with Sketch.

in sport •  10 months ago

Pretty far it turns out. 

I got back into skateboarding 3 months ago, after a 14-year break. I'm 28 and I stopped skateboarding back when I was 14, I guess because I thought I should grow up. Also, I think it wasn't cool for me to be an older teen girl on a skateboard- thank you gender norms. As I got older, I still wanted to skate but I thought it was too late, especially if I wasn't any good. I was wrong.

Getting Back On a Board

A friend of mine had started skating because her boyfriend did and she'd got really into it. She asked if I wanted to go with her to Girls' Night at our local skatepark. I think I actually scoffed, like an out loud disbelieving laugh, when she asked. She responded, "why not?".  She was right, why the fuck not? There actually wasn't a reason not to. So, I dug out my old skateboard, dusty and untouched for almost a decade and a half, complete with wheelie-bin stickers of my high school nickname. Off I went.

I had no idea if I'd remember much from skating as a kid. I remembered the feeling of walking into a skatepark and being terrified, that's for sure. It was different this time though. As a kid, I'd always been scared of the skatepark. Not because I might get hurt but for the possibility, I'd make a fool of myself in front of the older, cooler skater kids. This time around my priorities had changed. I didn't care if I looked stupid, but breaking my arm? That didn't mean time off school and a cast my friends could sign, it meant not being able to work, less income and having to dress cast-appropriate for the next few months. I'm not sure what that looks like, but I feel like it's not pretty.


I decided I'd just have a roll around and get used to being on a board for a while before I tried anything else. Oh my days, that feeling! It felt like being home. It felt like I was a kid again, skating down the hill to my house. Pushing off, following my friend's line around the park, the freedom of just speeding along. Immediately, I remembered why I'd fallen in love with skateboarding all those years ago.

I started going to Girls' Night every week. I started going to the skatepark on other nights too. I learnt to drop-in, which I never had the guts to do as a kid. I began thinking about skating all the time. I'd walk along imagining ollieing over cracks in the pavement and up onto the curb. I'd sit at my desk looking out the window and praying it'd stay dry so I could skate after work. Then I found out about SkatePal.

SkatePal

SkatePal is a charity that builds skateparks and coaches skateboarding in Palestine. It's so important because 50% of Palestinians living in the occupied territories are under 21, yet opportunities, whether educational, sporting or otherwise, are near to non-existent. Skateboarding is one of the most inclusive sports in the world, it's truly global, spanning a multitude of cultures and religions. I think one of the things that makes skateboarding perfect for this situation is that it can be done at any age, with very little equipment, almost anywhere. There are no rules to learn. You can skate in a group or alone. You can be incredibly skilled or a total newbie and you can still gain such sheer joy from skating, even if all you do is ride around. Perhaps the thing that makes skateboarding so perfect for the young people living in the occupied territories, is the feeling of freedom that skating can give you. Each year, SkatePal ask for volunteers to go out and I just knew it was something I had to go for, so I applied. 

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The Next Chapter

I found out just after Christmas that I'd been accepted. I'll be spending April and May out in Asira, Palestine. I've quit my job to go out there and volunteer with them (which is possibly scarier to me than just going out there), so who knows what I'll do afterwards. For now, though, I'm just so excited to get out there and start coaching. I've always been involved in voluntary work here in Manchester. I've done everything from running after-school clubs to soup kitchens. I always wanted to go and help somewhere that really needs support, in occupied territories for example, but I honestly thought I didn't have anything to offer. I didn't want to go selfishly, get in the way and be more of a hindrance than a help. Now I get to go to Palestine, be useful, work with young people and skateboard all day, every day for two months. I can't even believe it's an option, let alone that I got accepted and it's happening.

I know it'll have its hard times, I know that there's a gender divide over there which is going to be difficult for me to get used to. Add to that the fact that it's so hot and I am definitely super pale and very ginger. Whatever the challenges I face, I just can't wait for this next chapter of my life. So, where can a skateboard take you? All the way to Palestine.

You can find out more about SkatePal here.

Donate to my volunteer support fund here.

You can also see what I'm up to on Instagram here.

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Absolutely wonderful post and good luck to you. Loved the story about the skate park and you are brave for 'dropping in'. I tried it once after getting all nostalgic... I can still feel the thud of my head on the ramp. No real harm done as I've got a head like a rock :)

Up-voted and resteemed.

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Thank you so much! I definitely think you should try again, just maybe with a helmet. That's one thing that's changed since I was a kid. I used to have no concerns about getting hurt but be worried about looking silly. So, of course, I'd never wear padding. Now I don't care at all about how I look, I just really don't want to get injured, so I wear all the padding!

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Lol you just about styled it out :)
I started going to the local skating ring with my daughter and got carried away on the first night. It came back to me instantly(or so I thought). Must have looked like a right wally but like you said, who cares! Sounds really interesting about your trip to Palestine, I will keep an eye out for your updates. Stay safe and hope you have a great experience! I take it you have checked out the company...?

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Yeah I have, a few of the skaters I've met have been out there previous years and they've said it's an amazing experience. Plus I've been to their fundraisers and heard other volunteers talk so I think it'll be great. I've got to make it out there first though!

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Well you have my support. Good luck! :)

quite an inspirational story you have there. skatepal sounds like an amazing organization and im sure you could do a whole follow up just detailing out your preparations (and obvious excitement for it;p).

my favorite part by far was the turning point for you:

I started going to Girls' Night every week. I started going to the skatepark on other nights too. I learnt to drop-in, which I never had the guts to do as a kid. I began thinking about skating all the time. I'd walk along imagining ollieing over cracks in the pavement and up onto the curb. I'd sit at my desk looking out the window and praying it'd stay dry so I could skate after work. Then I found out about SkatePal.

its so apparent in your writing how impact this was on you, your everyday life, and with skatepal - your future. it takes a lot of courage to jump into a new hobby or skill as an adult - i think because because society in entertainment paints this picture of adulthood as this stagnant, dull and unchanging thing. one of the best lessons ive learned in life is that you can be a beginner at any age, you just have to not be afraid to look silly or fail. and you really took this head on. great post, thanks for sharing:)

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You know when I was writing that part on my lunch break I was grinning, thinking back to that feeling. At the risk of repeating myself, it's just sheer joy, that's the only way to describe it.

What you're saying about being a beginner at any age is so true. I remember thinking that I was too old to get back into skating at 22, now I'm 28 and I think if I'd started skating again when I was 22, imagine how good I'd be now! I think the best rule to follow is to just go for the things you want, and don't stop trying new things.

The thought of adult life being unchanging, is something that absolutely terrifies me. Constantly challenging myself, whether through learning something new or going off to volunteer, is what keeps me from freaking out :)

Hey there! I was saving my upvotes but I have to give you one. You're an awesome writer. I don't know how long it took you to make this one, but it's an awesome one. It took me many days to get accustomed to the formatting here. It seems you already got that up your sleeve.

I had a skateboard once. My dad bought it thinking I'd like to use it. I would, I was dreamy when I got it. But I noticed I didn't know how to ride a skateboard and I had no friends who would teach me, so it stayed there as a dust receptacle for who knows how many years.

I wish I had your bravery, and I constantly force myself to go out there and be braver, but I don't know if I'd dare to do what you're doing. Not only riding a skateboard, although that is a hard-enough hobby to start, but going out of your way to stop the life you had and go to another country to help them progress regardless of the dificulties you might find.

You mentioned the gender divide. How are your plans to guarantee your freedom to roam around there? Poverty-stricken places have, in my opinion, a higher tendency to enforce their cultural rules. You'd have to wear a scarf even to skate, probably. I'm curious about your view on this.

Overall, this is a great article. I have to welcome you to Steemit with open arms. Know that at times, this community can be a bit unrewarding if you don't go around commenting a lot and making connections. I hope you'll find your stay pleasant. Thank you for making such a great effort in making an excellent article for us to read. <3

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Hi, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post :) I never thought I'd get back into skateboarding and I'm just so glad I have done.

I know a little html which helped me with the formatting, also this article really helped me out with my pictures. I like code because it's just a big jumble of everything that means nothing and then you make the right change (in my case usually through research and trial and error) and suddenly exactly what you were trying to achieve appears on the screen. I'm a bit nerdy but I get excited by that. Maybe I'll write a post with some basic html for blogging if you think that it'd be useful?

As for Palestine, it'll definitely be an experience. I'll be in Asira which isn't as strict as other places. I won't need to wear a scarf I'll just have to wear long sleeves. We're told we should stay with male volunteers after dark as well. I'm used to being so independent so that will be a little hard to get used to but I think it'll definitely be worth it for the experience.

I'll definitely be writing and posting about my experience whilst I'm there... whatever that may be.

Welcome back to skateboarding! The community certainly needs more awesome people like yourself!!

@team-solutions has up-voted and re-steemed your post :) Thanks for the great content!