Shredding Pine Ridge: How Skateboarding is Transforming a Native American Community

Sponsored feature: A new documentary from Levi's shows skating changing the lives of this reservation's residents

The power of skateboarding to inspire kids, to give them a constructive outlet for their energy and keep them, for want of a better phrase, out of trouble, is well documented.

Initiatives like Skateistan in Kabul, or Pushing Myanmar in Burma are helping transform local communities. More recently the Stronghold Society, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of Native Americans in the US, embarked on a similar skatepark project with the aim of doing the same for the young people on the Lakota reservation in South Dakota, in the US.

“Pine Ridge has suffered from a drug and alcohol epidemic with teen suicide rates seven to ten times greater than the national average.”

Having secured funding from Levi’s, they completed one unfinished park on the reservation, and built a new one – a process documented in this new documentary, Skateboarding Pine Ridge.

The need for the parks – and the transformative effect skateboarding can have on local youth – is certainly there. The US might be the richest nation on earth, but Native American reservations sometimes feel like a different country, with high levels of unemployment and alcoholism.

Photo: Screenshot

Pine Ridge has suffered from a drug and alcohol epidemic with teen suicide rates seven to ten times greater than the national average.

As Walt Pourier, the founder of the Stronghold Society, says in the film: “These kids go through a lot of things on a daily basis. It’s been said before, but skateboarding saves lives. And you literally see that here.”

To find out more about the film, the project or the Lakota people of Pine Ridge, check out the Stronghold Society site.

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