Action Sports Kids Foundation brings dozens of Long Beach locals to Dew Tour community day

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All eager to get their shred on at Dew Tour.

More than 50 local Long Beach kids and teens got an opportunity to skate the Park and Street courses at Dew Tour on Saturday morning, hours before the venue opened to the public, thanks to a partnership with the Action Sports Kids Foundation, also known as ASK Long Beach. It’s the fourth year of Dew Tour’s partnership with the local non-profit organization, which is partly funded by grants from the Tony Hawk Foundation and has many partnerships in the skate industry and around the Long Beach community.
Photos by Luis Ferra

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Whoa and straight out the gates, young ripper takes a crooked grind to the MNT Dew hubba.

“There’s nothing that hypes these kids more than to be able to skate the Dew Tour pro course,” said ASK founder and executive director Mike Donelon, watching on as the kids on the ASK skate team hit the course.

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In the park, Lola Tamblink decking her board on the MNT Dew can extension! Photo: Dagaard

Donelon calls ASK a “non-program” aimed at providing youth in Long Beach with an alternative to the streets and gangs, through skateboarding and a skate team, education, and monthly community involvement meetings. ASK’s sponsors help provide skate gear, clothing, food, and school supplies to participants, and is considered one of the most effective groups in the country working with at-risk youth. Donelon says it all grew out of the effort more than 20 years ago to build El Dorado Skatepark through the creation of the Long Beach Skate Park Program: the city now has a total of nine skateparks.

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Little homies holding down the set.

“In 1996 I was on the City Council and I started the Skatepark Development program, just to give help give kids a safe and legal place to go skate, because my son was a skater and because I’d been working with at-risk teens for years and wanted to help give them something to do and somewhere to skate,” Donelon says. “So we scooped up a bunch of kids from the neighborhoods and got them all to come to a council meeting. I was just amazed by their enthusiasm – I’d worked with at-risk kids for years before that and had never seen anything like that level of enthusiasm – so I thought, ‘Hey, we might be on to something!’ As it evolved, the kids got involved in the skatepark design, went to all the community meetings, did all the talking, and got it done. So we wanted to keep the momentum going and founded the non-profit to try to do just that. We started ASK with 8 kids on the skate team, and now we have over 100. We typically have at least 50 kids at each of our monthly meetings.”

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Sending it down the set from the kicker.

Many of the ASK skaters have gotten sponsorships, and some are pursuing competitive skateboarding, but Donelon says the success he’s most proud of is that as kids spend time on the skate team they begin take on leadership and mentoring roles to help younger skaters.

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Peta Kenworthy catching air over the corner. Photo: Dangaard

Apinya Imon, 13, is one of the newest ASK ambassadors.

“I’d been skating for a few years when I learned about ASK, and in April I became an ambassador,” she says. “A lot of people have helped me get to where I am, so it feels really good to be able to do the same for some other people.”

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Feeling out the 6-stair set with an ollie.

She was ecstatic about the change to skate the Dew Tour Street course.

“This is only here for one week, and then it’s gone, so it means the world to me and I’m so grateful,” she says. “It’s like a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to skate the same course my idols skate: Nyjah Huston, Lacey Baker, Leticia Bufoni, Chris Joslin, Mariah Duran… they’re all skating here, and now I get to. It’s amazing. I met Nyjah – he signed my board – and I met Chris Joslin: today I’m wearing mismatched shoes because yesterday he signed my right shoe, so I kept that one at home. I was also really proud to meet Yuto Horigome, because he’s Asian, he’s really young, and he’s really proving that anyone can make it in skateboarding. I was born in the U.S. but my family is Thai, and it’s been amazing this week to see really young skaters, some of them younger than me, from all over the world.”

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Kids from all directions awaiting their turn.

Jose Aguilar, 15, is another ASK ambassador who was stoked to be skating the Dew Tour courses.

“Being part of Dew Tour is sick! Just being here inspires me to want to try to compete in the open qualifier in the future because I look up to all of the pro skaters,” he said. “It’s super fun to be out here with all my friends.”

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Dew Tour’s Sam Heering on the megaphone giving a rundown on the morning’s session.

Aguilar says he thinks the Action Sports Kids Foundation has been so successful working him and other local teens by making skateboarding the main focus.

“Skateboarding is really fun, but it’s also really about never giving up,” he says. “To me that’s the life lesson of skateboarding: it’s hard! It’s hard as hell! You’re going to fall down so many times. But you keep working at it, you keep practicing, you keep trying, and eventually you get that trick, or whatever you’re working on. It’s been kind of eye-opening to be here watching the practices at Dew Tour and seeing that it’s like that for everyone. What you might not think of if you only watch the Final is that even your favorite pros miss so many times before they get it right. I think that right there is what it’s all about.”

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Pink helmet posse got their shred on in the park. Photo: MRZ

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