Got a surfboard or skateboard gathering dust? This nonprofit can put it to good use
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kula Elementary School’s Brit Oliphant describes herself as an unconventional educator.
Her assignments tap into her students’ creativity, and she connects with them in other ways.
“I’m a teacher, but I’m also a skateboarder and a surfer and just a life lover,” she said.
Oliphant’s desire to give disadvantaged youth access to the sports she loves motivated her to start a movement called Boards4Buddies.
It puts surfboards and skateboards into the hands of Hawaii youth whose families can’t afford them.
“I’m in a community of professional surfers and professional skateboarders who have garages full of gear,” she said. “I found that I could be the bridge to those kids.”
When she put the word out, professional wave riders, skaters, and others responded.
They donated boards and gear to the cause.
Pro skateboarder Zach Miller helped Oliphant start Boards4Buddies. He made the first donation and has watched the movement grow.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes in kids’ personalities almost overnight where they went from very unresponsive and real quiet in school to like instantly they have a whole new group of friends,” Miller said.
“They’re out after school at the beach surfing or at the skatepark,” he said.
In just three months, Oliphant and her small team have collected and donated about 60 boards to students on Maui and Oahu. And they’re getting more to give away.
“People want to support our keiki and they want to get them into healthy habits and surfing and skating do just that,” she said.
As word’s gotten around, other teachers have nominated students they feel could benefit from a board. One even held an essay contest where kids explained why they wanted one.
“Pretty much, as soon as we get a board in we get a board out,” Oliphant said.
She said the reception for Boards4Buddies is overwhelming and encouraging.
“My ultimate goal is to get to the point where we can actually go to communities and set up ramps for kids, so not only give away equipment but help give kids a place to skate,” she said.
You can find out more at Boards4Buddies.org
Oliphant is now trying raise funds to turn her grassroots campaign into a non-profit that get boards to more young people.
“You can just see the light in their eyes and stoke that I got when I caught my first wave, or when I got my first board,” she said.
That look makes it all worthwhile.
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