Skate for Change: How Socks and Skaters are Fighting Homelessness - Rabble Media
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Skate for Change: How Socks and Skaters are Fighting Homelessness

Sep 02, 2020
Skate Civics

Every Tuesday, Mike Smith would grab his skateboard, donated socks and hygiene supplies, and head to downtown Lincoln, Nebraska to hand them out to people living on the streets. Eventually his friend joined in, then a few more kids, then a few more, and all of a sudden he had 40 teenagers who,like him, just wanted to help. In 2010, Smith founded Skate for Change, which helped others create change in their cities in the same way. Skate for Change now has leaders in 110 cities and 11 countries.

“All of a sudden these 14, 15-year-old kids are skating around, and they’re just feeding people,” said Smith. “... and I’m watching all of these skate kids pour their lives and their hearts and their souls into helping people, into feeding people. I’m completely blown away.”

People started noticing this great group of humans. They saw this movement of change led by skateboarders in Lincoln, Nebraska of all places and they knew it was something special.

Alex Ruybalid, the Community Manager at Skate for Change, has watched as it’s opened the eyes of its participants, showing them how simple giving back really is, and how difficult it is for those who live on the streets. The most important lesson he has learned is the importance of humanity.

“Treating people like humans is the most important part. The ‘us and them’ mentality is a huge barrier to really getting to know a person and finding out how you can help them,” Ruybalid says.

Serving the homeless community can come with a big emotional toll.

“The joys of seeing someone get housing or a job are balanced with the experiences of hearing about a death,” Ruybalid says. “There are some of my friends who live on the streets who have died of the cold, alcohol, or traffic accidents. The joys and the hard times are always just reminders to keep rallying the crew, skating, and spending time with people on the streets.”

Socks won’t end homelessness. We know that. But they do have the power to bring together a community of skaters, and with their help, perhaps change the world. Through Skate for Change, skaters are gaining empathy, understanding, and building relationships with vulnerable demographics. They will grow up to be our business leaders, politicians, community organizers, and everything in between. As they grow up they’ll instill this importance of empathy into their lives and be looking through a lens that cares about humans even when those humans are brushed aside by everyone else, this will change our communities and our world.

Join the change - start a chapter or get involved on SkateforChange.org/join* or give them a follow on Instagram @skateforchange

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