Community Involvement, Rehabilitation

Incarcerated artists give kids the gift of skateboarding

Avenal prison skateboard artists show their work.
Incarcerated artists at Avenal State Prison show off their painted skateboards. The boards were auctioned off, with funds benefiting Fresno Skateboard Salvage.

National Go Skateboarding Day is celebrated June 21

Fresno Skateboard Salvage works with several California prisons to help underprivileged kids enjoy the many benefits of skateboarding on National Go Skateboarding Day and beyond.

For the past three years, Fresno Skateboard Salvage Founder Rodney Rodriguez has worked with Avenal State Prison, California State Prison – Corcoran and Valley State Prison to allow incarcerated artists to paint skateboard decks. The completed decks are auctioned off and help fund the program.

Rodriguez personally delivers art supplies and salvaged boards to institutions on a rolling basis. Incarcerated artists then design the skateboards to reflect super heroes, sports icons, and pop culture. Boards take artists approximately six months to complete.

More than 800 skateboards and helmets have been provided to kids in the community. Many of these donations have been made possible by the artwork provided by the incarcerated population.

A skater himself, Rodriguez visits parks in search of youth who may be in need of equipment upgrades and provides them with new boards and safety equipment, which they may not otherwise be able to afford.

Giving kids quality gear is a way to share a sport that has had a huge impact on his life, physically and mentally.

Positive impacts of skateboarding

Skateboarding is much more than a great workout. According to a recent study by the Pullias Center for Higher Education at University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, skateboarding improves mental health, gives skaters a sense of community, and encourages diversity and resilience.

(Read the study.)

“These incarcerated artists are helping give young skaters a positive outlet. They are giving them the gift of skateboarding,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve received such positive feedback from incarcerated artists, those who purchase the completed boards and, of course, the kids.”

In honor of Go Skateboarding Day this year, Fresno Skateboard Salvage will be providing gear and brief lessons to 25 Native American youth at Fresno City College. Afterwards, they will have an opportunity to skate with the Apache Skateboard Team. Some of the donated boards were purchased using funds made through boards painted by incarcerated people.

(Visit the Apache Skateboard Team website.)

The next round of skateboards will be auctioned off in a few months through the Fresno Skateboard Salvage Facebook page.

There will be 45 boards available, hand-painted by artists at Valley State Prison.

Learn more about Fresno Skateboard Salvage at their website.

By Alia Cruz, Public Information Officer

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