15 June 2017

Liberia: Elwa Academy Skateboard Club Grateful to Tony Hawk

Photo: Liberian Observer
Children showing off their skateboarding skills during a demonstration.

The ELWA Academy Skateboard Club yesterday expressed appreciation to the Tony Hawk Foundation for the donation of 60 helmets to help build interest in the sport.

The helmets were presented to the club by the founder and chief executive officer of Foundation for Women, Deborah Lindholm, yesterday during skateboard training at the school's campus in Monrovia.

In a video recording, members of the club held a written 'thank you' note, and thanked Mr. Hawk for the helmets that would ensure they practice the various tactics demanded by the sport without fear of head injuries.

"We thank you, Tony Hawk," they said in unison.

According to a report on The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, "Tony Hawk is probably the world's most recognizable name in skateboarding."

The ELWA Academy Skateboard Club now has 100 members, according to Lindholm, "and the only rule is that a kid must wear a helmet before he or she can practice the sport."

She said parents must give a written consent for a child to become part of the club.

Lindholm runs the international non-governmental agency, Foundation for Women that provides, among others, microloans to less fortunate women for their businesses and to rebuild their lives. The organization supports more than 150 members across the country.

She said she saw the need to get the kids "involved in positive things" and give them the chance to join a global culture of sports. She discovered, more than four months ago, that since the sport is not presently active in Liberia, she would lend her organization's support to make it popular among kids.

"We began last February and the kids were struggling to even balance on a skateboard, but now they are comfortable on the skateboards," she said. "Just four months later, they are doing well."

She said her objective is to establish skateboard clubs throughout the country so that Liberia can be part of the global skateboarding culture.

At the end of a foreword to the latest edition of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine on the sport, Tony Hawk said "the allure is undeniable - immediate gratification, daredevil antics, and artistic flair. But more important, as skaters advance for tic-tacks to kick-flips to crooked grinds on 20-star rails, and even to 20-foot aerials they learn a lesson that will serve them throughout life: Perseverance pays."

He added: "It brings together people of different social economic background - an equalizer - to connect to each other. It can bridge language barriers and it has become global and most accessible than ever before."

As a result, while South Africa is actively involved in the sport in Africa, others like Ethiopia and Uganda are making headway, and Lindholm wants Liberia to also play a part in the global skateboarding community.

There are two teams of kids up to 14 years and another of up to 18 who practice on Wednesdays at the school's campus. She said her organization will seek support to build a skatepark to host competitions.

Lindholm also expressed appreciation to the Tony Hawk Foundation, which seeks to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth through special events, grants, and technical assistance.

Lindholm said the organization is planning to join the 14th annual celebration of Go Skateboarding Day on June 21.

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