Wood, Wheels, and Potential
Story and Photos by Dylan Christopher // @dielan
I wish that I could travel back in time to tell my 14-year-old self that someday I’d be driving across the country in a van full of professional skaters, camping in national parks, and giving skateboards to kids in need along the way. I’m pretty sure my teenage self would shit his pants, which would be funny.
The mission of Elemental Awareness is to connect kids to nature and spread positivity through skateboarding. For the past decade we’ve been traveling across the nation visiting Indian reservations, stoking out their skate scenes with events and giving away massive amounts of product to the kids. We’ve spent time with the Apache, Navajo, Hopi, Kootenai, S’klallam, and Pima tribes. The reservations of America are some of the most barren underserved communities you’ll see outside of a Third World country. Poverty, alcoholism, and drug use run wild—yet happiness persists. We’ve been welcomed with open arms into homes, ceremonies, and lifelong friendships.
To give skateboarding to someone who seemingly has so little is indescribable, especially knowing what skateboarding has done for me. I can only imagine the potential this piece of wood with wheels has for these children. It’s more than a hobby or passion; it’s an escape, it’s life. Last year on the Pima reservation outside of Phoenix, I handed a kid a skateboard and he looked up at me and said, “This is the best day of my life.” And not in the way people say it ironically. Like, literally that was the best day he had lived in his life up until that moment. I was at a loss. All I know is I hope to do this over and over for as long as I can.
Get on a skateboard; you never know where it will take you.