Grant Provider: John Bowser
Old School Skate Pass Grant ($3,300 Value)
Awarded AnnuallyOnline Grant Application Form
John Bowser's Story
I started skateboarding when I was in middle school. Shortly after I began skating, the city in which my school was located banned skateboarding. Prior to the ban, dozens of skaters would bring their boards to school, and skate over lunch and after class. After the ban, the number of skaters dropped dramatically, and the sport took on a sub-class status. I was one of a handful who stuck with it for several years thereafter. Still, it was a constant hassle to find places to skate, and I had to deal with being looked-down upon wherever I went. The only true skate park was a 45-minute drive away, and I had to pay for a membership to use it. After a half-dozen years, I gave up skateboarding because of the difficulty of finding new places to skate.
Now, I look at how much things have changed for skaters. I live in a moderately conservative part of the country, yet there are a dozen skate parks within 45 minutes of my home. When I drive past the city parks that have skate parks, softball diamonds, tennis courts, and bike paths, the skate parks typically have more than a dozen kids at them. After 30+ years of modern skating, it’s safe to assume it’s here to stay.
Skateboarding is no less social than traditional sports, it's just different in how it causes people to interact. Yet too often it is overlooked by people who never had the opportunity to skateboard when they were younger. That’s why I like the Skate Pass program so much. It exposes kids to the sport in a non-threatening and safe way, and it lets them know there are athletic alternatives to traditional sports. It also adds legitimacy to the sport, and opens parents’ minds to the idea that it is a socially acceptable activity.
I wish I had done more to help promote skateboarding in the 15 years since I gave it up. I would love to be able to claim my own little slice of its success. But until now I haven’t done much of anything. So, I’m finally getting off the sidelines and doing something to help shape this world in the way I wish it had been when I was growing up.
To all the folks at Skate Pass: Keep up the great work! You’re helping make this world a more enjoyable place for a huge number of kids.