Skateboards for Hope Empowers Kids Through Sport
Montreal Non-Profit Spreads its Message at Home and Abroad
Skateboards For Hope is a non-profit organization led by Betty Esperanza in Montreal.
She took a trip to Cuba roughly 10 years ago and gave a used skateboard to a boy in a remote community.
Every time Esperanza returned, she would bring used skateboards to teens living in the area. Eventually a skateboard community formed. The boy she gave the first skateboard to, Yojani Perez, she said, has become a professional skateboarder and became a leader and role model in his own community.
Esperanza quickly realized that she wanted to build more communities like the one in Cuba. She looked no further than the local First Nation communities around Montreal. She founded Skateboards For Hope in 2011, with a mission to “reuse, recycle and revolutionize” skateboarding for youth here, and around the world.
She says that skateboarding has the power to break the cycle of poverty, and foster strong community leaders, collaboration, trust, and freedom in poor communities that would otherwise be subject to violence and crime.
The non-profit organization donates used and recycled skateboards to communities in Uganda, Cuba, and First Nations communities in Canada. Their website lists the Mohawk community as one of their partners.
They also have a team of young skateboarders, aged four to eight years old, that participate in all the events they host at home in Montreal, along with their First Nations Ambassador, Justin Darrow, and a few local professional skateboarders who compete on the world scene.
Skateboards For Hope hosts events throughout the year to help raise money and awareness about the power of skateboarding. They sell t-shirts and caps, and accept donations through their website where 100 per cent of the proceeds go to the kids in need in the communities in which they work.
The organization participated in the 2nd Annual KidCon on Oct. 22 to 23, 2016 at Stade Uniprix in Montreal. They installed their own station with a ramp to show kids how to skateboard and put on a demonstration and spread their word.