Delivering A Message Of Love
By Corrine Dayman | Photography Steve Haining
There is no better feeling in the world than doing something that brings you happiness. For Amigo Skate and their “merry band of misfits”, this happiness comes from a deep connection with Cuba and an unspoken bond that they have found through skateboarding.
A charity initiative that developed from an idea to collect, refurbish and rebuild unwanted and broken skateboard equipment, then recycling it back to skaters in need, Amigo Skate has become a passion project for friends and business partners, Scott McDonald and René Lecour. Travelling to Cuba three or four times a year, the duo describes their philanthropic work as a way to bring happiness to kids who otherwise could never afford to partake in the beloved sport.
Seeing skateboarding as a creative outlet and a way for youth to reconnect with themselves, Scott and René’s main mission has been to provide kids and youth with the opportunity to have fun while challenging themselves through discipline and perseverance.
As Scott describes, “The art of skateboarding teaches many important life lessons and pushes to you to try again when you feel that you have been beaten down. In skateboarding, you push yourself to succeed, and this skill can be translated in other parts of your life. These character traits become very beneficial as you get older.”
Among the projects that Amigo Skate has spearheaded in support of the Cuban skateboarding initiative, the charity is working hard to have the sport licensed and federally sanctioned. If all goes well, this would deter police interference, harassment and possible confiscation. The duo is also working closely with Cuba’s federal sports agency, INDER, with hopes to follow through with plans for an outdoor skateboard park in Havana.
Spending time with the kids in the streets of Cuba and seeing them happy brings the Amigo Skate family a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Although they have paid out of pocket at times for equipment to cross the border, Scott and René believe in their cause and that it is making a positive difference in the lives of the children they are reaching. They encourage travellers to bring their used skateboard equipment to Cuba the next time they are visiting, or donations can be made through their website www.amigoskate.com.
“We know that there is no way that the Cuban children could repay us financially, but if they are happy, then it is perfect. There is nothing better that you can do but deliver a message of love.”