SKATE YOUR PROBLEMS AWAY IN BARCELONA

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To most skateboarders, Barcelona is a concrete heaven – perfect marble ledges, sharp-edged architecture, smooth surfaces. It’s as if it had been made by skateboarders for skateboarders – which is probably why it pops up in almost every skate tour video and attracts skaters from all over the planet, like hungry mice enticed by a fat block of cheese.

What most of these visiting skaters don’t know, however, is what most of the local kids face growing up. The fact is, in Barcelona’s Raval district, three out of every four children are at risk of social exclusion.

Herokid’s “Skate Your Problems” campaign aims to help the kids from Barcelona’s Raval district. And as you may have guessed, part of their solution involves skateboarding. In collaboration with Casals Del Infants, a non-profit organization that works with kids who are at risk of social exclusion, the charity got a load of local kids together, got them to draw their problems, and without telling them, put their illustrations onto skateboards, on which they were then taught how to ride. The remaining boards were then sold in shops and online – helped by the charity’s story going viral online – and all the money went back into the charity and its cause.

I called up the guys at Herokid to learn more about what the kids from Barcelona’s Raval district face growing up, and how the charity has made an impact so far.
 

What was your main intention with the launch of this campaign?
The main reason was simply to show solidarity with the work of "Casal dels Infants", a non-profit organization that works with kids who are at risk of social exclusion.

What kinds of issues are these kids facing, growing up in Barcelona’s Raval district?
In the case of "Skate your problems" we were with a group of local kids aged 12 to 15 years. As you can imagine, the types of problems these kids have are very diverse. In most cases they’re really serious problems that they didn’t cause themselves – homelessness, school adjustment, social exclusion, conflict environments, broken families – and we had to take them very seriously. In a way we had to step into their shoes.

Can you describe the area? Is there a lack of opportunities for kids there?
Well, I don’t think the problem is in the area. When you’re poor, you often miss opportunities. El Raval is a neighborhood where many nationalities coexist; rent is reasonably priced; a family with economic difficulties is more likely to find a home they can afford there. In any case, the Raval neighborhood is quiet with lots of civic activity; it’s one of the oldest and most emblematic of Barcelona neighborhoods.

Do most of the kids generally share the same story? 
Honestly, I think not. Every kid has their own story and needs. I suppose concrete situations share some stories, but those guys are unique, like all people, and we must serve them as they deserve.

As part of the charity the kids had a go at skating. How did that work out?
Skating is fun but you have to fall over a lot before you can progress. It’s not easy. Like almost everything important in life, you have to work and try to improve. It’s a continuous act of self-improvement; it’s about the struggle to pull off that one trick, and to motivate your friends at the same time. The kids had a blast while it lasted. The goal of the project was less about them becoming great skaters than to give them personal lived experiences, and for them to share those moments together. It was about making friends, excelling, and rising.


 

You also sold boards that the kids drew illustrations on. What exactly does the money go towards?
All the profits from the sales during this action will go back into the Casal del Infants charity. They’ll be in charge of managing those resources as they see fit.

Is it right that the initial campaign went viral online? What role did the internet play in getting this message out there? 
The initiative lived on a microsite through a testimony and a viral video project. Some shops in Barcelona like heyho or Insitu Montana were involved with the project and helped to sell the material, but the strength of the action was to be on the network.

In the skate world, Barcelona has always been a hot spot; what is it about the city that keeps international skaters coming back time and time again?
I honestly do not have this image of the city. It’s a city that has never been kind to the skaters, even if it’s true that someone or something has invested in facilities. Here it is fine for skating in the street. I think what makes people come to skate here is the city itself, the people, the lifestyle and fashion.

Has the city changed much in the last few years, in relation to social exclusion? Is it getting any better?Personally, I think slowly people are becoming more aware of it – to do different things, to improve what we have discovered and to leave something better to come after us.

How has skateboarding helped these kids so far?
As with any social activation, we don’t believe this action will solve everything by itself. But if we believe it’s a measure of which they can learn values ​​that apply in other situations, then hopefully that will help them to be happier in their daily lives.

 

Generator Barcelona Awaits

Grab yourself a Skate Your Problems deck from Herokid here!