When Amber Clyde started her skating programme five years ago, she was determined to get more girls on four wheels.
She’s got a new goal now and that’s to grow skateboarding among communities in South Auckland.
“It was a big goal to have lessons in South Auckland. We came along with spare boards and gear and any curious eyes got invited to join in,” says Amber.
Amber’s Auckland-based skateboarding programme, Girls Skate gained support from Aktive and Auckland Council to successfully expand the programme into lower socio-economic pockets of Auckland with free classes.
With help from Auckland Council to spread the word and additional funding from Aktive, Girls Skate has expanded into Manurewa and Flatbush.
“Initially we had more than 30 girls attending at Flatbush, and with extra funding we’ve been able to keep the class going and keep them engaged while also removing any financial barriers to participation.”
Since its inception, some 3000 tamariki and rangatahi in the Auckland region have benefitted from the programme. It’s huge growth for a programme that was born out of helping a newcomer to skating learn new tricks. The age of skaters ranges from four to 45, and abilities range from absolute beginners to international competitors.
“We noticed most of those participating in our sessions were living in higher deprivation areas. We also noticed no other skate schools offering lessons in those areas,” she says.
“When we met these young girls they were often left unaccompanied at the skatepark and would hang around for hours with little to do.
“Now they have something keeping them occupied and entertained, and we have donated them some of our older used boards so they can practice away from us too.
“It has been extremely rewarding to watch them grow their love and passion for skateboarding. They have met new friends, learnt new tricks and grown in self-confidence, perseverance and generic social interaction.”
It’s a similar story in Manurewa, where more than 20 girls and boys now turn up for classes.
Her crew offered tamariki spare skateboards and places with coaches to learn new tricks.
“At the start they were apprehensive, but they gave it a go and they were then awaiting our arrival the next week,” she says.
Alongside this mission, Amber is fulfilling yet another goal to provide lessons to disabled tamariki and rangatahi. Having received funding for sessions and larger skateboards, she is currently working with Blind Low Vision NZ.
“It’s such an amazing feeling to watch those attending originally think they would never be able to learn how to skate, to rolling down hills by themselves.
“They are so happy and we are so grateful for the opportunity. It has definitely been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far.”