GIVING THANKS GIVING SKATEBOARDS

At Skateboards For Hope, we are so grateful to our donors, just like Kristen Conaty who took the time to spread the message of hope to her community. Here's a great example of one of our supporters who sent us a thank you letter and we are so blown away by the impact it had for her and her students that we decided to share it with you. THANK YOU KRISTEN! #GIVINGTHANKS #GIVINGSKATEBOARDS #GIVINGTUESDAYMTL

Hi Betty,

I run a mural program during lunch time at The Brandeis School and students are free to sign up and give their art back to the community in different ways. I was introduced to your program at the 2017 NAEA (National Art Educators Association) conference and thought this would be a great fit for my mural students.

The idea of giving someone something like a skateboard to encourage them to take risks, become problem solvers, and build a community of friends and family with similar interests in an activity they might not have been exposed to other wise is something I try to instil in my teaching in the art room.

Many of my students are skateboarders and were extremely excited to find out that the mural program was going to be painting skate decks. The student body in my school has a wonderfully giving nature (I should also mention I work at a private school where students pay tuition to go and often come from financially well off families) When the students in the mural program found out that we would be donating the boards to deserving kids that didn't necessarily have the same opportunities they do, they were more then happy to give 100% of their effort.

At first some students did not see why we would donate skateboards rather than money. But after a few conversations and finding a wonderful video from the program STOKED mentoring here in NY (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPCiGtginvY) The students built a better understanding of how money cant always solve personal problems and sometimes reaching out through something like skateboarding opens people up to other possibilities in their lives.

It defiantly took some time to gather all the materials to complete this project. I reached out to family, colleagues and even students inquiring about skateboards, trucks, and wheels. Fortunately we were able to gather all the skate decks through students, friends, and neighbors. I was able to sand down and clean them up at a friends wood shop. The trucks, wheels, and grip tape were things I had anticipated spending my own money on (only one of the boards had good enough trucks and wheels to keep). Luckily I found a good bulk deal on these items and was able to get all of the things we needed to put the skateboards together

The thing I found most surprising about this project is how one of my students who doesn't really care for my class during regular class time was extremely involved in this process. Donated 4 of his own skateboards, let me know of places to get trucks, wheels and grip tape that were not too expensive but still good quality. It brought out a different side to him that I don't think i would have been exposed to other wise.

I would start looking for skateboards at the beginning of the school year. And hold a fundraiser to purchase parts that we needed to complete the skateboards. I would also like to get the mentoring organization STOKED involved in some way.

I do think it could be replicated in schools around me (we have a big skateboarding community here). I am sure that it could be replicated around the world if it was done with the right people and funding. The benefits of this program aren't only for those receiving the finished skateboards but also for the students working on the skateboards. As I said earlier some of my students that didn't have an interest in their regular art class really showed a different side of themselves through this program. It builds strong characteristics of problem solving, selflessness, empathy, persistence, and so many more.

It did affect me on a personal level. Not only did I get a chance to learn about some of my own students personal interests but through researching your organization I was lead to so many organizations like yours in my area that are doing wonderful mentoring for students in difficult places. This opened my eyes to things that are happening in my own community, and hopefully through this program my students and I made a small positive difference in someones life.

I hope that these skateboards show the recipients that someone out there that doesn't even know them is thinking of them and wants to share in a similar interest.

Thank you for taking the time to get back to me. I know you have a million things going on with your organization and I just wanted to thank you for what you do. Skateboarding is something I don't think I would have thought to be so empowering in someones life, and you have brought that to light.

Cheers!

Kristen Conaty

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