Free skateboard lessons to fight crime and violence

Brazilian skateboarder Sandro Soares—also known as Testinha—and his wife Leila Vieira dos Santos created Social Skate, an NGO that offers free skate lessons to young people in Poa, near Sau Paulo.

Most children who participate in the program come from underprivileged backgrounds, which is why the lessons are free. Also, the couple provides snacks and drinks to energize the kids before their classes.

According to Testinha, skateboarding is the perfect activity to teach discipline and resilience. Indeed, mastering a trick can take hours of trial and error where you need to get up and retry every time you fall.

Skateboarding is massively popular in Brazil, so the organization has the opportunity to partner with champions the kids can look up to—such as Rayssa Leal, the 13-year-old who won the silver medal in women’s street skateboarding at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Why does it matter? Like many underprivileged cities, Poa witnesses crime, violence, and unemployment and does not offer free leisure activities for youth. As a former social worker at juvenile detention centres, Testinha knows too well the effect that negative influences and the lack of alternatives can have on children.

Testinha believes that Social Skate can prevent kids from going down the wrong path and help end this cycle of crime and violence.

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