Sacramento program helps youth off the streets and onto a skateboard

By Jason Marks

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SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — If the key to reducing youth violence and unlocking a safer future is simply to build bonds with the next generation, then some high schoolers in Sacramento have found their way on the asphalt.

Using a wooden board, four wheels, and a love for shredding pavement, they are creating an alternative way of connecting and communicating with others.

“You feel you can do whatever you want when you are skating,” 17-year-old Angel Rivera said.

Showing kids a love for skateboarding to keep them from being tempted into violence is the aim of Project Lifelong. Sean LaTour, who noted the popularity of skateboarding in Sacramento founded the program seven years Jarquin.

“Every single child deserves to have a mentor,” LaTour-Jarquin said. “One mentor can make an incredible difference in every kid’s life.”

Once a week, skateboarders come rolling off the street and onto the Arden Middle School tennis courts.

“It’s fun because I get to meet new people and I met some new friends already,” Tabby Felkel, who participates in the weekly meet-ups, said.

The program works by pairing up a high school student to mentor middle school students. In return, Project Lifelong takes the high schoolers on out-of-town educational trips.

Those mentors are high school students like Rivera.

“There are a lot of kids stuck in bad environments and this program is a really great escape from that,” Rivera said. “It’s a really good place to enjoy yourself and have people that really do care.”

LaTour-Jarquin’s program is now at three Sacramento-area schools, but he is looking to expand. He is aware that if his program isn’t a full-time activity, then children in their spare time could be lured into getting into trouble.

“By bringing the kids together from different backgrounds and neighborhoods it creates something amazing where we are getting to learn from each other,” LaTour-Jarquin said.

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