Faith leaders provide free zone for young skaters

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

Young people around Bakersfield are learning real life skills as they participate in a program that helps keep them off the streets.

The project is run through the Garden Community Church and its helping build relationships.

The Shindig Skate Church allows teens a place to practice their moves while they explore careers and prepare for their future.

Julian Cook, 12, has big dreams.

“I skate everyday.  That’s my goal to become a pro-skateboarder,” he said.

He rolls in every week to meet up with his friends.

“It’s fun because they have a lot of different things I can do here, a lot of stuff I can practice. They have competitions here and if I win, it gives me a goal,” he said.

But leaders with the Shindig Skate Church are not just preaching the gospel.  They’re teaching young people about responsibility and hard work.

“Most of these kids they are rejected by a lot of churches and so for us its ultimately about providing a place where they can feel welcome and have a place where they are embraced,” said Kris Smith, director of student ministries.

Volunteers helped build the ramps the skaters use and since most teens come from low-income families, the church provides free food at every event.

“What we’re here to do is to provide just that love that these skateboarders have never had before and to just show them that there’s something better than being the typical skater,” said volunteer Cameron Werner.

The teens challenge each other and with the guidance of church leaders are improving their self-esteem and setting goals for their future.

“I started skating when I was four, but serious skating when I started doing tricks and stuff when I was 7.   I want to become a pro-skater and if not that, a serious job I was thinking about construction,” said Orion Blackburn, 14 of Bakersfield.

Next year the group celebrates then years of providing service.

The teens gather Thursdays at Garden Community Church 6-9pm.

 

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