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What the Kids from Newton, California Taught Us

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Lots of organizations around the world have this goal. It’s kind of interesting how it’s so popular. But why are we all motivated to do this? For some, it’s giving the kids a fun reprieve from their daily lives. For others, it’s a way to promote exercise. Some believe surfing has a way of igniting a spiritual relationship with the ocean.

StokeShare believes it’s the secret to transforming humanity’s future with our environment.

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Another LAPD Cadet catches his first wave.

If you follow our blog you know our views on the impact of modern urbanism. Humanity’s migration into cities is inevitable. It is critical we do not allow the next generation to lose its connection with nature. The movement we are creating at StokeShare is based on the fact that people protect what they love, love what they respect, respect what they know and know what they experience.

So we are focused on a deep-rooted, long-term strategy to impact the connection young people have with the outdoors. Groups that work with inner-city kids (including us) often use the terms “at-risk” or “underprivileged” to describe the sociological circumstances of young people in the tough neighborhoods of our cities. We’ve decided we don’t want to do that anymore. The group of kids we surfed with last Saturday from the LAPD Cadet program taught us they are strong, capable, amazing individuals who just want an opportunity to succeed like all kids.

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LAPD Cadet headed for his first wipeout.

Last Saturday StokeShare partnered with the Surfrider Foundation – West LA/Malibu Chapter (Surfrider) and the LAPD Newton station to take twelve fearless young people, ages 12-17, surfing for the first time in Venice Beach, CA. Although a few of them had never seen the ocean before they paddled right into rough, shoulder high surf and charged. But Saturday’s event was more than twelve amazing young people trying to surf for the first time. An organic version of crowdsourced volunteerism emerged from StokeShare and Surfrider. There was something powerful about the dynamic of building the necessary inventory of boards and wetsuits from local surfers showing up to volunteer. It created a sense of community that is exactly what we hope to accomplish with this program. We may have disrupted volunteering and action sports training.

StokeShare’s mission with this side of the business is to periodically work with non-profit organizations that help kids experience the outdoors. We were initially going to tie it to a marketplace performance threshold like TOMS’ famous One for One model. Then we met an amazing woman associated with the LAPD Cadet program who gave us this opportunity. We decided to just do it and now we aren’t looking back until these kids launch a south central LA Surfrider Chapter. The kids and their stories have empowered us to think bigger.

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Some Cadets having a blast with a rad volunteer

“I haven’t had the best childhood but I know I have an opportunity. Meeting people like you guys who volunteer to help us gives us hope that there is a chance at a better life. I don’t have to be like all the other girls in my school who just want to get pregnant, stay in the projects and collect welfare,” said a 15-year old female cadet.

Surfrider taught the kids about the importance of protecting the ocean they now love. They explained how we are all part of the same watershed. We really like this concept of One Watershed. Everything we do has an impact downstream. StokeShare, Surfrider, and the LAPD Cadets will continue to work together to make our community and environment stronger for the future.

Thanks to our photographers: Lauren Devon (@laurendevonart) and Martin Clark (@_shoot3r)

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Joel Cesare is one of StokeShare's cofounders and a lifelong searcher of the ultimate ride.

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