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Incarcerated artists give kids the gift of skateboarding

Hand-painted skateboards to be auctioned off, proceeds will help secure new equipment for kids in need

Fresno – In recognition of National Skateboarding Day on June 21, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) lauds its partnership with Fresno Skateboard Salvage, which works with several California prisons in the Central Valley to help underprivileged kids enjoy the many benefits of skateboarding.

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 in Chowchilla 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.

“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.

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:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  Contact: CDCR Press Office

June 21, 2022                                                                          

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