Skate or Die

The idea of teenagers with too much time on their hands is scary enough, but it’s particularly alarming on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation of South Dakota, where teen suicide rates are reaching epidemic levels. “Pine Ridge is the poorest community in the U.S.,” notes Walt Pourier, whose thirteen-year-old niece hanged herself on the reservation this year. “And I’ve got to tell you, there’s not much for them to do.”

Pourier wants to change that. With his Stronghold Society, a nonprofit youth-outreach campaign based in Denver, he operates on the theory that young people need movements to get behind — like the skateboarding movement, for example. Last week, the Stronghold Society successfully lobbied the Tony Hawk Foundation to get a skate park built in Pine Ridge, and today the organization will host ONE Gathering Skate for Life, a skate competition designed to be a little more, at the Denver Skatepark.

There will be plenty to do besides skating. Center stage will feature seven musical acts — including the Flobots’ Jonny 5 and several Native American bands — plus a chance for kids to get up and do their thing in front of an audience. There’ll also be a studio setup where they can make a recording to take home with them.

Why do it? “Skateboarding saves lives,” says Pourier. “It’s literally about that.”

The ONE Gathering goes down today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Denver Skatepark, 2205 19th Street; admission is free, but donations are welcome. For more information, visit http://strongholdsociety.org or call 303-255-1730.
Sat., July 9, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 2011

 
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