123. Impact Skate Club

November 17, 2023
November 17, 2023 Will Mackie

Welcome back to another Comacan Questions interview, we’re proud to share another interview from another great cause. Over the years we have come across and shared quite a few great groups that focus on community, inclusion, and the lessons that skateboarding can teach (such as Gnarly’s Kitchen, Later Skaters Gang and Ramp 2 Rail to name a few). In finding groups like this online it has led us to connect with even more, and that’s exactly how we came to find out about this week’s guest. We hope everyone enjoys this week’s interview with Impact Skate Club.

What inspired the creation of Impact Skate club?
I started Impact after already doing kids skate programs for a few years. It started as a fun job on the side but by time I started Impact I realized what an important influence skateboarding had on me as a young person. Not just skating, but the people, places, and things surrounding it. Looking back, I saw how negative some of it was, and started working to undo some of the things in my life that didn’t align with who I wanted to be. I wanted Impact to be a safe place to learn, socialize, and develop skills that apply to different areas of life. I also wanted to do everything possible to make it accessible for kids who might not have opportunities to participate due to financial constraints, cultural barriers, or any other obstacle. If someone wants to participate, we’ll do whatever we can to make sure they have the chance.

Where is Impact based out of?
We’re based in Toronto, mostly in the East York area. We (briefly) had our own space in Scarborough!

What is the goal of Impact?
Over the years things have shifted and evolved, but the basic ideas have remained the same:
1) We want to leverage the skills learned in skateboarding to help kids navigate their lives with kindness, confidence, and discernment. Skating teaches us resilience, patience, and the value of commitment to reaching goals. Skate culture and the skate environment can also teach us social skills, for good or bad. Having safe adults to role model healthy social interactions can hopefully counter some of the more negative influences that kids are exposed to.
 2) A core belief at Impact is that skateboarding is for everyone. There are no expectations on how anyone should skate. Skate spaces are as much for the casual skater as they are for the hardcore rippers. Respect should go all ways, and that’s true outside of skating, too.
3) Not exclusive to Impact or even skateboarding, but we try to emphasize that every person is worthy of kindness and respect. Our skate community is strong, and we can leverage that community to go out in the world and support and advocate for others. This can be something like standing up for someone who is being bullied or shutting down racism or sexism at the skatepark. It could also involve learning more about other people, other groups, other cultures, and being someone who does the right thing, even when it’s inconvenient.

How does impact get involved in the community?
Impact programs are primarily for kids and youth. With younger kids, community involvement has been demonstrated in initiatives like creating support kits for people experiencing homelessness (socks, gloves, water bottles, etc) and learning about youth homelessness from partners at other non-profit organizations. The goal with these activities is to teach empathy and help kids understand that everyone faces hardship; our actions, however small, can still make a positive difference. Older youth have been involved in some of these same initiatives, as well as going out to encampments at the start of Covid, to actually meet with people living there, talk to them, and hand out kits in person. Some of the youth also built and set up the Foodbox, a neighbourhood pantry where people can take and leave food items as needed. With our staff team, we’ve done special trainings to help them better serve kids with special needs or different learning styles, as well as skate clinics for kids with disabilities. We’ve hosted art workshops with professionals, as well as clinics run by some of our kids, teaching other kids. Within the skate community, we’re involved in hosting skate events in cool or unique places (BrickworksDundas West Street FestivalHouse of VansNuit Blanchea church) and supporting events for specific groups like Ash Bowl Bash, Queer Skate TorontoSkate for Solidarity (BLM), and Skate Rising, a skate group focused on female empowerment. There have also been contests, free learn-to-skate clinics, and adult lessons, to name a handful.

Who is Impact for?
Impact is for children and youth who are interested in skating. Not everyone has to be obsessed with skating (although some definitely are), but skateboarding is kind of the thing that brings us all together so we can learn more about each other, support each other, learn from each other, and grow as individuals. Some kids love being part of all the activities that Impact is involved with, while others just come to skate and get some tips. It’s all good. Our hope is that everyone who is in our program’s leaves feeling good about themselves.

How can people get involved?
Kids and youth can get involved by signing up for programs and events. People of all ages can follow our social media and connect with us there. We’re always interested in collaborating with like-minded people and organizations. We’re a small team with a limited capacity, but community is always at the front of what we do.

What does skateboarding mean to Impact?
Skateboarding is obviously a core component of Impact Skate Club, but it’s also incidental. It just happens to be what I have some skill with, and a part of my story. The values and community could fit in place with another sport or activity. However, I think skateboarding is unique in that it’s a physically demanding practice, which is inherently non-competitive. It takes risk and provides reward, but that risk is physical injury, which requires each of us to face our fear to some degree. Skating is also free, in that everyone does it their own way. We can learn from others, admire others, even imitate others, but no two people skate exactly alike, and that’s beautiful. The culture of support for our fellow skaters is something precious and valuable, and the world would be a better place if everyone had that attitude carry through to the rest of life.

Anyone Impact would like to thank?
This has always been a team effort. From the early days with our first staff crew and board of directors. The skaters, artists, non-profits, companies, and other professionals who have partnered or given advice or supported in any way. The many, many volunteers we’ve had over the years, of all ages, who were so kind and generous with their time. All of our instructors and those who have been role-models for the kids in our programs. And of course, every single participant who has come through, whether it’s for lessons, special events, free clinics, art workshops… all of it. Everyone who has played a part of any size is the reason we are here now, and we are deeply grateful.

And thank you to you for asking us to share a bit about the organization

Thank you!