Today, on International Women’s Day, Vans is kicking off a mission to teach women and girls how to skateboard with a series of worldwide skate clinics.
Throughout 2018, Vans will host more than 100 skateboarding clinics in major cities including Brooklyn, Chicago, London, St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Bangalore, São Paulo, and Mexico City. Girls and women who have never considered skateboarding are welcome to attend events, learn, and experience a productive outlet.
Don't miss the party this Friday at the Vans Skatepark in Orange, CA to celebrate women in skateboarding. Live performance by @DeapVally, open skate, and more! This event is all ages and free with RSVP at https://t.co/MnVgP7DJTV pic.twitter.com/IKB1qAyuxV
— Vans (@Vans) March 7, 2018
The project centers on Atita Verghese, India’s first female pro skater. Her journey is an emotional narrative, one that sets to inspire and empower the next generation through activities often considered unorthodox for girls.
‘Girls Skate India’ shows Indian girls gain confidence from skateboarding and highlights how a nontraditional activity provides an outlet for them to express themselves.
“Off The Wall is a campaign we have been running for a few years. It’s a set of global stories around expression that Vans has always supported in skateboarding, art, music, and street culture,” says April Vitkus, Senior Director of Vans Global Brand Marketing.
“While formulating this campaign in 2016 we saw a TED talk with Atita and were inspired by her. She exemplified this idea of ‘Off The Wall’ spirit. Vans India contacted her and she ultimately became their first skateboarding team rider.”
“The more we worked with her we fell in love with her story and wanted to let the world know and keep it going,” Vitkus detailed.
How does an action sport athlete from India become the face of an international brand’s campaign?
“I don’t want to say it’s a happy accident but it coincided with all of our planning. We kick off stories to begin each year and Atita’s story just naturally fell into place. Knowing that this was a strong story, not just about women but creative self- expression, it felt like a natural fit,” Vitkus said.
Learning about Atita’s upbringing and early interests in a male-dominated sport helped shed light on her growth.
“I got into skateboarding when I was 19 years old through some friends who were doing it. A few years before that we didn’t even have skate parks in our country. No one had heard of it being a thing, no one talked about it,” Verghese said.
“After a while of being in the skateboard scene here I realized that there were new people starting to skate all the time and as the scene started growing bigger, I noticed most of these people were dudes. I wanted more girls to be a part of this amazing time of the beginning of a skateboard culture in India,” she explained.
Being a sport with such male influence, you begin to wonder how it has impacted the growth and gender equality.
“Skateboarding is a community that is super encouraging. It unifies people wherever you are in the world. As a brand we believe in that and really advocate that. As a sport you don’t see people skating against each other, they’re skating with each other,” Vitkus shared.
— Lizzie Armanto (@Lizziearmanto) March 1, 2018
Skating has opened doors and broken down barriers for women. Lizzie Armanto gave a detailed account from her younger years.
“When I was a little girl, skateboarding really was freedom. When I first started, it was hard to not be intimidated and just go for it without caring what anyone else thought. I love that Vans is committed to not only female skating, but skating culture and the sport as a whole. When girls see this brand which is synonymous with skateboarding supporting them, it can give girls who are just starting some confidence and hopefully make starting to skate less intimidating,” Armanto illuminated.
For competitions, the Vans Park Series is a global contest with events being added yearly to new countries. The hope is that more women will join and compete at a high level.
“It’s the direct path to the pro ranks. It’s a great series for both men and women that will lead to the 2020 Summer Olympics. It’s a park discipline and the park series has multiple stops around the world,” Vitkus informed.
With international contests set to take place in Sao Paulo, Vancouver, Huntington Beach, Paris, and China, expect these summer events to heat up.
For more information on women’s skateboard clinics and how to attend, visit Vans.com/girlsskate.