A Skateboard Competition That Empowers Girls And Supports Women
The world’s top female skaters descended on Encinitas, California, last weekend to compete in the sixth annual Exposure Skate and, more importantly, to make a statement.
More than 130 skateboarders traveled from all over the U.S. and from a number of countries around the world — such as Australia, Brazil, Holland, South Africa, France, Colombia, Argentina, Canada, and Japan — to compete in vert, bowl, and street disciplines. At stake: a $50,000 prize purse and a chance to support a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence. Competing in the event was also a chance to shine a light on the growing positive impact of the sport on girls and young women in local communities and beyond.
Exposure Skate, a nonprofit that empowers girls through skateboarding, hosted the free event where families could watch the top female competitors from around the world and also participate in free yoga or Camp Tanuga Learn-to-Skate clinics.
Action sports stars, such as two-time X Games gold medalist Greg Lutzka, came out to show their support and offer photos and autographs for fans.
“I love skateboarding, and it’s given me a lot of opportunity in my life,” Lutzka says. “The progression of women’s skateboarding has been awesome. It’s great to be able to come out and support it.”
Lutzka and other skaters give back to this and other skateboarding community events throughout the year via the Sheckler Foundation, an organization founded by professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and devoted to causes that support children and the action sports community.
Other sponsors and supporters of the Exposure event included the Tony Hawk Foundation, Zevia, Vans, and Hosoi Skateboards, among others. Exposure donates proceeds from the competition to Community Resource Center’s Carol’s House, a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence. This year, $6,000 was raised. Those funds help support critical support services for families affected by domestic violence, such as counseling and children’s programs, according to Rebecca Palmer, director of programs at CRC.
Along with raising funds, the event is designed to make a statement about skating itself.
In 2012, after women’s vert and bowl events were removed from nearly every significant skateboarding competition, it became evident that it was time to advance women’s skateboarding in a new way. Pro skateboarder Amelia Brodka created “UNDEREXPOSED: A Women’s Skateboarding Documentary.”
The film’s release motivated philanthropists Armando De La Libertad and Lesli Cohen and a team of volunteers to take action. The group came together to support Brodka in creating the inaugural Exposure event to do just that: create awareness and exposure for female athletes competing in the sport and expand its message of female empowerment by raising money for survivors of domestic violence.
The nonprofit’s educational program, Skate Rising, offers free skate clinics along with community service projects in Phoenix, Arizona, and Encinitas, California, for girls ages 4 to 18.
The groundswell of momentum from inside and outside the sport has grown each year — and for good reason.
The LA84 Foundation’s 2016 Youth Sports Survey released in May and revealed that skateboarding has the highest “play frequency” of 20 sports included in the survey. That means that kids who skateboard did so more days of the year than any other sport — 90 days on average, compared to 60 for football, 59 for cycling, and 55 for basketball.
“The interest is clear, and with few barriers to entry (no team, coach, or specialty equipment required) as well as the global spotlight it will receive during the next Olympic Games, now is the best time to engage and expand youth interest in the sport,” wrote Renata Simril, president and CEO of the foundation, and Neftalie Williams, a USC instructor, about the report in a Medium post.
“We need to allocate more resources to drive home that we believe in our youth and the miraculous manner they use skateboarding to envision a more inclusive, diverse, and socially just society.”
Share image by Jaime Owens, courtesy of Exposure Skate.
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