In the country of Belize, as is true in many Central American countries, the last 10 years have brought increased rates of violent crimes. Sixty percent of the population of Belize is under 19 years old, and 30% of Belize homicides occur among youths between the ages of 14-24. These crimes are concentrated in urban areas, including the south side of Belize City.
In late 2014, Toronto Skateboard Committee (TSC) member, Jody Gyivicsan, acting as Advisor of Youth Participation and Governance to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) in Belize, recognized skateboarding as an activity of interest to the youth of Belize City. In response, Jody proposed a project to embrace skateboarding as a vehicle for positive Youth participation and engagement. Once the project was accepted by the DYS, Jody called upon support from the Toronto skateboarding community. In mid-December TSC members Nick Pierre and Ariel Stagni traveled to Belize to deliver skateboard related workshops to local youth.
There persists a strong draw for youth in Belize to become involved in violent crimes. The Skate Belize Youth Engagement Project presented Belize children and youth an opportunity to feel affirmation for their involvement in the positive activity of skateboarding.
Through supporting this skateboard related project, the TSC and Department of Youth Services in Belize are sending a message to the youth of Belize that their involvement in skateboarding is valuable.
We are accepting monetary donations to enable us to ship skateboarding equipment to the youth in Belize City. Please email: [email protected] for information on how to donate.
See the photos and video below and check back on the TSC website for further updates on our work in Belize City.
1. Local youth cutting 2x4s
2. Working together assembling the ledge
4. Installing the riding surface
5. The obstacles were temporarily stored and skated daily at the covered basketball courts on Bird’s Isle
6. Practicing on the new obstacles at Bird’s Isle:
“People say I’m a quitter. But I’m gonna keep trying, try again, try again. And then try again”, 6 years old Skate Belize participant
7. Taking it to the streets
8. A group shot at the town square following Belize’s first skate contest and demo
9. Postive alternative to violent crime:
“Fock guns, lets’ skate”, 19 year old Skate Belize participant
Video of our experience: