By Sierra Bein
Kick flips, pop shuvs, varials and riding fakie are not the type of things that usually pop up in conversation between two girls. Aliya Bein and Savannah Bein, are definitely not ordinary girls. In grade 5, Savannah started skateboarding with CJ’s Skateboard Park and School which is owned by Jay Mandarino, president of CJs Graphics. Savannah later got her sister involved at the park as well. CJ’s is a not-for-profit organization, that Jay started to give back to the community, and help youth in the area. He loves seeing the girls getting involved with the skate community in Etobicoke.
Girls that skate, it’s not something unheard of, but not many people see that too often. “It’s not really weird being some of the only girls” said Savannah. “The guys are pretty encouraging, because they don’t usually see many girls in the park. It’d be nice to see more girls, but it’s a sport that you get hurt a lot in, and you need to believe in yourself and be self motivated to do a trick, if you bail, you may get hurt”.
Savannah broke her arm three years ago, and has learned the dangers of skateboarding but has not given up on the sport what so ever.“To any girls that just started or are considering skating, don’t be intimidated by everyone else, because aside from all the stereotypes, everyone is happy to see girls skate and will be willing to help”.
Aliya Bein started skating when she was in grade 4 and was the youngest of the female starting volunteers.
“Compared to the guys there are barely any girls that skate, I think sometimes it’s hard being one of the few girls that skate because all the guys can do amazing tricks and then I’m there trying to do stuff that I want, it makes me look bad. I keep going because it’s very fun and I want to keep going until I get very good so I’m as good as the guys”.
Aliya may not be as experienced as the other girls in the skate community, but has displayed a growing passion for the sport in the past year. “In the past some younger girls have walked in looking scared and seen me skating, then they become happy that there’s another girl to skate with. That’s how I started, because there was another girl who would help me, and she still helps me today”.
The female skate community is definitely growing, and women skateboarders are becoming more common in skateparks like CJs. Skateboarding has always had a bad reputation. Seen as being rough and violent, skateboarders are viewed as trouble makers, who taint the neighborhood they live in.
CJs has given a chance for youth to become involved in the sport in a safe environment, and disprove the harsh stereotypes placed among the skate community. Savannah and Aliya Bein are good examples of skateboarding being a positive influence on youth today. They not only get the exercise from the sport, but also have gained lots of self confidence and personal growth through learning how to break barriers in the field.
These two ladies have also helped teach many less fortunate kids, including children with autism and cancer. This summer they will also take part in a deaf skate camp for four days up at Muskoka.
The girls continue to get other girls involved, and encourage younger siblings of current skaters to join their all-girls skate class while also enjoying their time at the park. They might not be changing the world, but still an unique inspirational act in their community.