My mom, photographer Hilary Kathleen, and I took a recent trip to Cuba to distribute donated skateboarding gear to local skateboarders. The gear, including skateboards, shoes, magazines and clothes, were donated through Cuba Skate, a non-profit based out of Washington, D.C.
Cuba Skate, which started in 2010, provides Cuban skateboarders with new skateboards and apparel because of wear-and-tear skateboarders put their gear through on a daily grind. Cuba Skate also invites popular skateboarders, brands and shops to go to Cuba and spend time with the skateboarders.
Laura Martin, the owner of Cowtown Skateboards in Phoenix, donated for the first time and says she would like to be able to do more for the community.
“Skateboarding is a vessel for fun, individuality, creativity, passion and friendship,” Martin points out. “To be able to spread the love to Cuba was an honor.”
Pyramid Country, a skateboarding team based out of Phoenix, and skateboarders from Phoenix and Tucson, also donated additional gear.
While in Cuba my mom and I visited a skate spot called a “DIY” (do it yourself) that Cuba Skate was renovating. The popular spot is in a spot that was an old military base during deposed dictator President Fulgencio Batista’s reign. But this skatepark is only a makeshift location known to the local skaters—that could shut it down at any time.
Skateboarding there had awesome vibes, and I was able to help build a part of the spot. The locals, who were also affiliated with Cuba Skate, taught me how to build a ramp in one day and they continue to add on to the structure.
We ended up hanging out with all the local Cuban skateboarders and made lifelong friends. The atmosphere was great for both skateboarding and photography and it was as though we had been a part of the community for much longer than the reality of our nine-day visit.
Watch this video from Thrasher Magazine for a Day in the Life of a Cuba Skate ambassador.
Top photo by Genêt Klasek.