In 1978, the Bro Bowl skatepark opened in downtown Tampa. For years, skaters would notice that the kids who lived in the neighborhood lacked the equipment they needed to use at the skatepark. This sometimes resulted in confrontations as the neighborhood residents came to resent the outsiders coming in to use their park. In an effort to get the local residents skateboarding, some skaters would bring along loaner boards for the local kids to use.
In 2006, a group of skateboarders decided that they needed to get those kids their own skateboards to keep. Using Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT) as their home base, they started to collect gently used skateboard parts and assembling complete skateboards to hand out to the Bro Bowl youth on Christmas.
“This tradition continued through 2014, when Boards for Bros became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization fully committed to applying our model to neighborhoods beyond the Bro Bowl by providing equipment, safe skate spots and youth mentoring in communities across the United States,” said Boards for Bros Executive Director Michelle Box.
Boards for Bros’ headquarters is located at SPoT and it has chapters in South Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Chicago and Orange County, California.
“We have distributed skateboards in the United States, Cuba, Honduras and Bangladesh,” Box said. “We will continue to expand our reach across all states and we hope to work on a mobile Boards for Bros team that will bring the gift of skateboarding to communities that cannot support a full chapter. We want skateboarding to spread into neighborhoods that might not even have a local skate shop.”
The nonprofit pursues partnerships between their local Boards for Bros chapters and youth-centered nonprofits, as well as targeting underserved neighborhoods in the vicinities of skateparks. They are looking for more skateboarders from the area to become involved with Boards for Bros.
“Our volunteers are involved in all phases of our projects, from donation, build and distribution, and are able to directly experience the impact their hard work has on their local community,” Box said. “This engagement often inspires further volunteerism. The magic of the gift of skateboarding is that it changes the lives of our volunteers and the youth who could never experience skateboarding without our help.”
If you would like to learn more or volunteer visit www.boards4bros.org. Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT) is located at 4215 E. Columbus Dr. in Tampa.