Failure is a Necessity for Youth in Alchemy’s Skate In School Program

Filed Under: Expanded Learning - Posted @ 10:28am

As his knee hit the ground, Alex Miles quickly tucked and rolled from forearm to shoulder, immediately popping up to his feet and right back onto his skateboard.  “I don’t really get that frustrated anymore when I fall,” Alex said, ” I’m just used to it now.”

Alex is one of a few students learning to skateboard on an early Monday morning before school at Lister Elementary as part of Alchemy Skateboarding’s Skate In School program.  Taylor Woodruff, Alchemy’s Executive Director and Skate In School instructor, says Alex’s mindset toward falling and getting up again is exactly what he’s trying to help all his students develop, “Failure is not an option, it’s a necessity.  It’s how you grow.  If you’re not falling down, you’re not learning, and once we get the youth to understand that with  skateboarding, we can translate it to other things in life as well.”

Providing opportunities for youth to learn and grow through skateboarding is what Skate In School is all about.  In addition to helping kids learn new tricks, Woodruff embeds social-emotional practices like mindfulness, emotion management, and community building into a variety of games and activities that keep the students on their boards for a majority of the 45-minute session.

“It’s amazing to see a 5th grader teaching a 3rd grader without even being asked just because they want to be able to share that experience of learning a trick.”

While he’s seen tremendous growth in all the students, Woodruff noticed Alex has a particular dedication to learning the craft, “Since we started at the beginning of the school year, he’s here every Monday at 7:30 with his pads on ready to go.  There’s been days where nobody else showed up but him, so we just got to skate together and I could go more in depth with helping him.”

In December, a local company reached out to Woodruff. The company wanted to donate boards to kids in the community who wouldn’t be able to buy their own. Woodruff immediately thought of Alex.

“I had a board but it just wasn’t very good,” Alex explained. “So they went to this shop around Christmas time and they made me a board.  They gave me rubber wheels because mine were just plastic, and the trucks aren’t all wobbly so it’s easier to balance and do tricks.”

With his new board, Alex can practice more outside of class. As Alex’s skill level has grown, Woodruff has seen Alex helping younger students figure out new tricks, “It’s amazing to see a 5th grader teaching a 3rd grader without even being asked just because they want to be able to share that experience of learning a trick.”

“This class helped me figure out how to do new stuff”, Alex said. “I think it just helped me get more confident.”

Alchemy Skateboarding is one of 24 organizations currently offering Expanded Learning Opportunities through the Tacoma Whole Child partnership. Students at 12 Elementary Schools in Tacoma now have access to Expanded Learning Opportunities like Alchemy’s Skate In School through this community-wide effort to ensure every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools, and numerous community partners are working together to expand this partnership by providing aligned, equitable, high quality social, emotional, and academic development opportunities to students in and out of school.

To learn more about increasing Expanded Learning Opportunities for Tacoma youth, contact GTCF for ways to support programming.