At all of City Year Seattle/King County‘s sites, corps members run after-school programs that teach children important lessons as well as provide them with a safe place to stay. Because of these programs, corps members are able to spend more time with and form stronger bonds with struggling students. At one of our three middle schools, corps members Prescott Cheong and Brian Cain run the very popular Sk8 Club.
As City Year corps members in the skating scene, we started an after-school club, Sk8 Club, that allows kids to practice skateboarding as well as teaches them about the importance of safely and positively advocating for skateboarding.
Throughout the fall, our young skaters learned about the in’s and out’s of skateboarding, the basic techniques, Seattle’s skateboarding history, how skateparks are made and we explored hard-hitting questions like why skateboarding has such a bad reputation. Throughout our unit, we put a heavy emphasis on being role models to younger skateboarders, teaching them to be good and safe skaters and we shaped the program to encourage kids to be articulate about why they love skateboarding.
On our last day of Sk8 Club, we took a field trip to Sea Sk8 Skatepark in The Seattle Center. The middle-schoolers were excited to be on a mini-trip and cracked hilarious jokes the whole way. When we got to Sea Sk8, they burst out of the van like a stampede of wild animals. Even though we’ll never admit it to our students, the van ride was definitely one of the highlights; their excitement made us feel like we were giddy kids, too.
The time at the skate park panned out like a crazy day in the making – definitely filled with ups and downs, but totally worthwhile and fun. One feisty eight grader, Luke*, didn’t want to put his helmet on because he thought it would damage his “reputation.” So we had to talk with him about safety, the importance of using a helmet and being a good role model. Luckily, he was a good sport about it.
There were some minor spills but the kids got right back up and skated on. Two of our sixth grade kids who had just started skateboarding, Brady* and Nathan*, faced their fears and rode down a slope. Several other kids rode around and got to experience the feel of a true skatepark for the first time. All in all, the trip was a huge success and it was a nice way to end this unit of Sk8 Club.
The Sk8 Club kids are already clamoring for the next session of Sk8 Club but unfortunately for all of us, Seattle’s cold and rainy weather makes it difficult to go outside, let alone skateboard. Until the sun comes out again, Sk8 Club will be on hiatus but we are hoping for a comeback when the weather decides to be a little kinder.
As for us, Sk8 Club really enhanced our experience as City Year corp members because we had the opportunity to lead our own after-school club. The experience was invaluable and creating our own curriculum and coordinating field trips has taught us the importance of organizational skills and planning ahead. But being able to hang out and skateboard with our students was what we enjoyed most about Sk8 Club. It was a blast to play and joke around. You would be surprised how funny middle-schoolers are or how easily you can be swept up in their little comedy routines yourself.
We see the same students in the classroom and out, and it is just as rewarding to us when we help them get an “A” in math as it is when we help them land a new trick on the skateboard. Taking initiative and organizing an after-school program like this has really helped us diversify our time with City Year, and we are confident to say that we are ready for more to come.
*Names have been changed