LITTLE VILLAGE — A neighborhood nonprofit is offering a summer skateboarding course for girls and LGBTQ+ youth to gain confidence in expressing themselves in the traditionally cis-male dominated sport.
The Third Wave Skate Collective is organized by Enlace Chicago, a non-profit organization based in Little Village, inviting youth of all skating levels ages 14-19. It meets at least once a week at one of the neighborhood skate parks: Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St., or La Villita Park, 2800 S. Sacramento Ave.
The class is led by Little Village natives Janet Lopez and Yuridia Gutierrez, who said it was important to provide a community space for girls of color and transgender or gender non-conforming youth in skateboarding.
Lopez got interested in skateboarding as a kid because her brothers were into it, but she eventually quit because it wasn’t an inviting environment, she said. She returned to the sport about two years ago.
“It’s still very centered around a sport that men of color play,” Lopez said. “I had to stop for a very long time, because I didn’t feel safe [to the skate park].”
Gutierrez said they just started skateboarding this year and still don’t feel comfortable coming to skate parks alone, so it’s good to build a community of skaters across the country. class.
“There is a lot of toxic masculinity and, more than anything, [a] lack of accountability,” Gutierrez said. “In a lot of these spaces, men see other men doing things that are very intimidating and dangerous to women or trans people and just say nothing and completely ignore it.”
Beyond practical skateboarding skills, students are provided with reading material that deals with themes of gender and self-expression.
Lopez said she hopes the class “heals” the students as much as it educates.
“I am so honored to have such a flexible program as we have, where we teach [students] about the importance of feeling safe in a space like this and talking about toxic masculinity and our own gender,” Lopez said. “I keep telling our students that this is our park; we live here. We shouldn’t apologize for coming into space and skating in this space because it was built for us.
Lopez and Gutierrez said the class had a handful of students who came regularly. The summer session will continue until the end of July and they hope to launch a session in the fall, they said.
For updates on Third Wave Skate Collective or other Enlace student programs, follow their social media.
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