With a new year comes the idea of new possibilities. That somehow the changing of numbers opens doors that had not already existed or at least had not been realized. The truth is that regardless of the time of year possibilities are always around us and seeing them requires the openess to look. Perhaps the thought of another trip around the sun brings just that.
2017 for me signifies the beginning of a movement, one that has existed for decades but has been reconsidered in a myriad of contexts. It's the idea that community, well being, connectedness and common purpose is what motivates many of us as and drives human behaviour. Sadly, marginalized communities face barriers that separate them from these ideals. Instead, feelings of hopelessness, disconnection, distrust, and dissention fill the void. As Larry Brendtro and Martin Brokenleg have explained in their book “Reclaiming Youth at Risk”, these are the “adult-wary” youth of today. I will push it further and say that these are the “relationship weary,” those broken down by trauma and circumstances that have stripped them of their ability to form positive bonds. This lack of connectedness leads to countless issues and places these populations at greater risk. Therefore, re-forming connection through positive relationships has become the only answer.
Over the past decade spent working with youth, children and families, I have had the opportunity to encounter those dedicated to forming positive relationships with those living on the fringe of the mainstream. Educators, caregivers, outreach workers, volunteers and peers not phased by what is labelled as “maladaptive” behaviour and see individuals for their desires rather than their deficits.
In 2017, Academy is attempting to create bridges for those working within communities of marginalized youth. Skateboarding has always been a bridge that has brought renegades and rebels together with the purpose of seeking out new and meaningful experiences. It has been a universal language that discredits the constructs of race, class and sex and instead, validates individuality, creativity and self direction.
I believe that the values held in the larger skate community can and will impact the way “we” look at traditional education, outreach and mentorship. As it creates connection through shared ideals, it also provides a platform to push for positive personal and collective change.
Academy is a movement: to push with a purpose.