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Thumbs Up! West Coast Tour

Photographs by Ana Paula Negaro, Words by Jenna Selby

Teaching the kids

After a series of successful fund-raising events in conjunction with a selection of skate companies and various local community-lead projects, The Poseiden Foundation raised enough money to embark on their annual Thumbs Up! Tour. The ethos of the foundation is to help inspire and motivate the younger generation to follow their dreams.  This tour focused specifically on working with the inner-city youth along California’s coast.

The riders involved; Jessica Florencio, Eliana Sosco and Amelia Brodka all gave up their time for free to help out with the mission – they feel it is a unique way to give something back to the community through the sport they love. Photographer Ana Paula Negaro was also on hand to document the proceedings.

Flip that bin!

The tour kicked off in San Diego, first stop was Northern California’s “The Ranch.” An early morning coffee helped wake up the ‘not quite ready yet’ skate legs and the crew got down to carving and slashing the wooden bowl. Ladonna Williams, editor of ‘Hate on This’ zine and owner of “The Ranch” also joined in the early-morning session. Next on the itinerary – Roosevelt Park. Jessica and Eliana impressed the kids by kick flipping and tre-flipping a trash can – the kids were as you would expect, somewhat awe-struck! The demonstrations were then followed by skate lessons for the excited and enthusiastic kids and teenagers, all eager to have a go after what they had just seen.

Before they knew it, the riders had to pack up and make their way to their next destination, Sunnyvale Skate Park.  As the crew rolled into the park, equipped with arms full of product, the inevitable happened. Immediately the atmosphere in the park changed and the kids all stepped up a gear [J – same effect happens when you put Eye of The Tiger on at skate park]. Many of the kids were riding hand-me down boards but with the prospect of being able to win free new gear; they determinedly tried to prove that they were deserved of it. Those who showed the most perseverance were rewarded with decks, hats, shirts and stickers – although of course everyone got something.

The following day, the ladies were up and out of bed early in order to get to San Francisco.  They had been invited to take part in the 7th annual Salmon & Toad’s Chili Bowl Contest. Whilst other competitors skated the bowl, the Poseiden Crew organized a few contests of their own on the street course to give the local kids another chance to win a selection of prizes – including Hoopla and Gravity boards. Jessica Florencio and Amelia Brodka judged the ‘best trick’ contest firstly down the hubba and then over the hip. There were also prizes for ‘best goofy trick,’ and ‘most in need of a new skateboard’.

Prize Winners

When it officially kicked off, Amelia Brodka entered the competition. She placed 3rd for her efforts in the women’s division tricks including tail slides and front rocks.

Barrios Unidos

After the contest, the crew drove up to Barrios Unidos’ headquarters in Santa Cruz. Although along the way Amelia and Jessica managed to get lost in the forest. It took over an hour to find the pair, who as it turned out were 30 minutes down the road sipping coffee in the local Starbucks unaware of the slight chaos they had caused!

Barrios Unidos is a non-profit organization that encourages the development of multicultural communities. It focuses on developing ways to prevent young people from getting involved in gang violence by offering positive alternatives. As part this initiative the ladies were invited to give a skate demonstration and offer coaching to those kids who showed an interest. A great finish to a great tour!

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