Monday - Thursday, the Bobcat Learning Center provides homework help and enrichment activities for their students. These enrichments range from cooking, to Leadership, to Japanese Club, to Skateboarding! Read on to hear about the BLC’s partnership with Alchemy Skateboarding.
If you’re going to visit the skateboarding enrichment at the Bobcat Learning Center, you need to be ready to dodge.
Learning Center Staff, Daniel Akamine, takes a dozen or so students from Jason Lee Middle School to visit Alchemy Skateboarding once a week after school. Alchemy Skateboarding is a local nonprofit on the corner of South 7th and St. Helens, featuring a skate shop and over 2000 square feet of indoor skate park, perfect for skateboarders of all ages to learn the ropes, even in rainy Washington weather.
When you first walk into the skatepark, it’s best to be light on your feet. Students are practicing their balance on the lowest ramp over here, other students are gliding up and down the half pipe against the back wall, and there stands a line of middle school students, waiting for Mr. Daniel’s support while they attempt something new. Every so often, someone yells “board!” and riderless skateboard shoots across the room. Everyone wears a helmet, but keep your eyes and ear open to avoid a bruised shin.
When this partnership was first getting off the ground, Daniel was excited to begin. “I owe it to Alchemy for getting this partnership started because there have been many barriers to getting skateboarding started at Jason Lee, regarding the liability concerns around skateboarding, as well as transportation for students to and from Alchemy’s indoor skatepark facility.” Daniel grew up skateboarding, and finds joy sharing this skill with his students.
In the fall of 2017, the team at Alchemy reached out to Jason Lee to use skateboarding as an academic enrichment to middle school students. They believe the foundation of skateboarding, which is embracing failure to reach success, can be a tool students could use towards navigating school, relationships and self growth.
“When middle school programming is going on at Alchemy, I get to see students who are shy or have low self confidence come out of their shell and overcome self anxiety and fear,” says Daniel. “I am inspired by skateboarding, the skateboarding community and the power skateboarding has to incite our middle school students to create a riot from within, which plants the seeds for students to practice hard work and embrace failure.”