On Friday February 22, 2019, Grlswirl, a grassroots, all-female skate community from Venice, California, and an all-female crew consisting of a photographer, videographer, journalist, and translator ventured to migrant refugee shelters in Tijuana. The crew of 10 women journeyed to three shelters with trunks packed full of 100 new skateboards and much-needed donations with the goal of teaching migrant children the basics of skateboarding.
Grlswirl’s mission is dedicated to empowerment, liberation, and community, with a focus on uniting women through skateboarding, empowering them to break gender boundaries and inspiring them to start a revolution through harnessing inclusivity and friendship. Through their philanthropy program, GrlSwirl mentored and taught young migrants in the Tijuana shelters how to skate. They aimed to help the children build self-esteem and provide them some respite from the harsh realities they are facing in order to feel like kids again.
Unaccompanied minors from a migrant caravan at the YMCA shelter in Tijuana.
Grlswirl fit 100 of these boards in two cars. Known as penny boards, they were easy to travel with and good for beginners.
Lucy, the founder of Grlswirl, teaching a refugee from the migrant caravan how to skate. Some steps include determining the new skater’s dominant leg, establishing correct foot placement on the board, tips to find balance, and learning how to “kick-push.”
Tobi, founding member of Grlswirl and head of the group's philanthropy program, skating in Tijuana.
In the combined three shelters visited, Grlswirl taught about 75 girls and boys. Once the children’s confidence and comfort grew, the Grlswirl women arranged games for the kids to challenge their skills.
Getting the hang of it...
Future Grlswirl member.
Members of GrlSwrl at the Tijuana boarder wall looking into San Diego County.
Julia and Tobi enjoying a skate in Tijuana.
Indulging in the local food.
Getting a good skate in by the water.
After three days at three different shelters, members of Grlswirl reflect on their mission, which goes beyond politics and the wall. It’s simply about teaching kids how to skate, a skill that no matter what happens or where life takes them, can’t be taken away.