The strong winds were no match for the crew of skateboarders and spectators that descended upon the Pemberton Skatepark on Saturday (Aug. 27) to participate in the first-ever Skate for India fundraiser.
Organized by Pemberton residents Claire Thiebaud Sinclair and Graham Sinclair, the skate fundraiser was able to raise $980 for Janwaar Castle, a non-profit organization based in rural India that aims to empower children living in that community. One of their projects is a community skatepark — the first in rural India and the largest in the country — that allows children to learn new skills through play. The money raised through Saturday’s event will go towards purchasing skateboarding and protective equipment for the skatepark’s first community skateboard challenge.
About 50 people came out to the event, including 20 skaters, ranging in age from six years old to adults. Divided into separate categories by age, the skate jam offered prizes for skateboarding highlights like best tricks and best bails.
The idea to host a fundraiser developed from a long string of events. “Last fall we lived in the Philippines and during our stay, the Paris attacks happened and affected us. With poverty close at hand we started discussions as to why terrorism exists,” explained Thiebaud Sinclair. “Some of our answers included that terrorism is linked to poverty, inequality, lack of education and separation among other things. Upon our return to B.C., Graham enrolled in a fundraising course. In the spring, Graham met Jim Barnum at the Whistler skatepark and discussed fundraising, the Philippines, India, kids’ skateboarding and finally Janwaar Castle.”
The couple researched the organization further and fell in love with the project. After exchanging a few emails with Janwaar Castle staff, they decided it was a cause worthy of support and set out to begin organizing duties for the fundraiser.
“We believe that any opportunity to make a positive change and foster equality is worth supporting,” said Thiebaud Sinclair. “Janwaar Castle is using skateboarding to empower and educate its youngest citizens to pave a bold and positive future in rural India. Skateboarding is a good tool for empowerment and character development for kids in both India and Pemberton. Skateboarding teaches discipline, commitment, perseverance and gives community — not to mention the happiness that comes from a life in sport and art.”
The almost $1,000 raised throughout the event came from raffle ticket sales and donations. “Every skater at the event bought a raffle ticket to participate,” explained Thiebaud Sinclair.
Raffle ticket holders had the chance to walk away with impressive prizes such as gift certificates, art, a trampoline training snowboard and VIP tickets to an upcoming show at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.
“We’re so grateful to every person that supported the cause along with us by giving their time, money, good vibes and encouragement,” said Thiebaud-Sinclair. “It really means a lot to those of us that organize events like this. And an especially big shout out to all the skaters and their families that showed up to make a difference through action.”
The Sinclairs are leaving online donations open until Sept. 19. To donate, or for more information about Janwaar Castle, go to skateforindia.com.