Shortly after 13-year-old Ali Al-Othman received his brand-new skateboard, he showed off a nifty trick to get atop his new deck.
Al-Othman got a new set of wheels through a program called There Gives the Neighbourhood, a Calgary Association for Skateboarding Enthusiasts (CASE) endeavor aiming to break down barriers to the sport for newcomers to Canada, low income youth, Indigenous youth and families. The board was delivered with the help of Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers.
They nominated Ali to receive the first board and then he’s to nominate someone he believes is worthy of a new skateboard, scooter or bike. It continues down the line – hence the name, There Gives the Neighbourhood.
CASE is a participant in the Field Law Community Fund Program, which awards funds to community organizations in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Nominated programs vie for votes to receive the Field Law funding.
CASE board member Macy Haahr said with skateboarding now an Olympic sport, they wanted to break down barriers for any youth wanting to participate.
“We want everyone from kids to adults to get involved in skateboarding and we want it to accessible to anyone: Newcomers, low income – anyone,” she said.
“We want to raise awareness about what skateboard is, the etiquette for the parks and how to get people moving.”
Ali emigrated from Syria to Calgary three years ago. The Grade 7 student has some experience skateboarding and he’s shown an interest, making it an easy connection, said Rabah Swaidek, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Centre for Newcomers.
“I just love seeing that kind of community building, especially when it comes to youth,” she said
“We always want to help them integrate into society.”
She said having the new skateboard not only improves the skateboarding, but it helps him break into new communities in Calgary, but will help with his English language and his social skills.
“That’s what we ultimately try to do; connect our clients to other organizations or companies that will help them do what they love, integrate into society and be a part of the community,” Swaidek said.
“It plays a huge part in their integration and we need to connect them with things like this so they can get out of their sheltered zone and speak to people and know people.”
People can vote for the There Gives the Neighbourhood program through the Field Law page to help garner $30,000 in funding to build the program long term.