When it comes time for Sandro Soares’ free classes, the children and teenagers normally knock on the gate with their skateboards. Soares, identified to most as Testinha, in June resumed coaching periods a number of instances every week after lessons had been placed on maintain for a lot of months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
His spouse Leila, an educator, helps the passionate 43-year-old skateboarder. Before the group heads to a close-by sports activities floor, the couple usually arms out snacks and drinks to fortify the children earlier than they begin their skateboard exercise. Once on the paved space, they arrange small ramps and different obstacles, and begin the warm-up routine. Then the more- and less-experienced skaters unfold out on completely different sides of the sphere — and off they go.
The couple launched Social Skate in 2011 as a charity-funded non-governmental group. On the lookout for an acceptable location for skateboard classes, they discovered a run-down sports activities space the place drug sellers frolicked. With a skateboard below his arm, he took coronary heart and approached the sellers, Testinha recalled. “I offered free skate lessons for their kids, too. I guess that convinced them.”
The sellers agreed to cease promoting medicine on that specific subject.
Skateboarding as crime prevention
Teaching socially deprived kids to skateboard free of charge is the fundamental concept behind Social Skate. “There are hardly any free leisure activities for children and young people in the area,” Testinha mentioned, including they’re sorely wanted as a result of hardly anybody within the poor Calmon Viana neighborhood can afford paid sports activities or music classes for his or her kids. Calmon Viana is in Poa, a metropolis within the Sao Paulo metropolitan space.
Brazil has loads of cities like Poa that grapple with crime, violence and unemployment. During the months the teachings had been placed on maintain due to the coronavirus pandemic, Testinha and his group distributed meals to make up for the kids’s common free meals at Social Skate and in school.
Testinha seems to be again on the lengthy years of working with younger folks and skateboarding. For 10 years earlier than he based Social Skate, he labored in juvenile detention facilities as a social employee who skateboarded. He noticed the paths younger detainees may very well be headed in direction of when subjected to damaging influences and with nobody exhibiting them alternate options. “It’s much better if we prevent kids from going off the rails in the first place than if we start when they’re already in prison,” he mentioned.
Fall down and stand up once more
The skateboarding classes are supposed to show kids self-discipline, resilience, self-confidence and social abilities. “When you skate, you often try a trick and don’t get it right at first — but you don’t give up, you try a second time and a third time,” Rafael Vinicius da Silva, a youngster who has been skating at Social Skate for just a few years, instructed DW throughout a lesson weeks earlier than the pandemic hit in 2020.
Learning to stand up once more and never giving up are abilities which might be good to have in any case, he mentioned, arguing he needed to overcome his shyness. “If you want to skate, you’re forced to leave the house. You often meet new people,” he mentioned.
At the top of every class, the group gathers to speak about what went effectively and what didn’t. Sometimes, larger points are mentioned like what it means to respect the opposite particular person, or why it’s necessary to make an effort not solely at skating but additionally in school. “If you get good grades at school, sometimes you get to go on a field trip or pick out shoes or an item of clothing,” Luana Alcantara da Costa instructed DW. Clothes and skateboards are donated to Social Skate.
In addition to cooperating with different NGOs and campaigns with well-known skaters, Social Skate most not too long ago acquired assist from Rayssa Leal, Brazil’s new skateboarding celebrity. The 13-year-old received a silver medal in girls’s road skateboarding on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and was the recipient of the International Visa Award for athletes who finest characterize Olympic values. Social Skate was her chosen charity for the prize cash of $50,000 (€44,000).
Child poverty widespread in Brazil
Over the years, greater than 1,000 kids have taken half within the free skateboarding classes, Testinha mentioned. He sees his work as an funding sooner or later — which is much-needed as a result of the general public sector usually neglects kids and younger folks, he mentioned. According to the Brazilian Abrinq basis, nearly half of all kids aged 0 to 14 dwell in poverty in South America’s most populous nation.
As a consequence, NGOs must tackle duties that must be dealt with by the state, Testinha mentioned. He is proud and hopeful that the nation retains producing skateboarding expertise. “I plan to keep doing this until I’m old,” he mentioned. “That’s my mission.”
This article was initially written in German.