The skate scene on the Sunshine Coast is rolling along nicely, thanks to David “Hally” Hallstead, founder of the SCBC Sk8 Skool Society - a non-profit that aims to teach children and youth skate lessons and life skills.
As a Winnipeg native originally, Hally found a supportive community in the city’s skate scene after he was laughed off his basketball team (poor guy). His vision is to introduce Sunshine Coast kids to the sport, while instilling positive values and discovering a sense of belonging.
“At its core, I’m more interested in people than skating. This is about mentorship and life lessons, and also changing the face of skateboarding because it had a pretty negative stigma for a while,” explains Hally, who is an alternative school educator by day. “It’s in the next Olympics. It’s a real sport. I want people to fund it that way and I want people to respect it that way.”
Hally - also known as “Hallywood” - encourages each Sk8 Skool participant to adopt their own alter ego, giving them a chance to express themselves creatively. He considers himself the “principal” of the school, and facilitates peer mentoring amongst the students by empowering them to teach one another.
He makes a special effort to connect with each and every kid in the program, to let them feel seen and heard: “My opening line is ‘Hey, what’s up. What’s your name? Can I try your board?’”
But, Hally doesn’t take credit for everything - he’s adamant that it’s really a team effort. Hally has assembled the FRGL (pronounced “fragile”) Skate Team. The team, sponsored by Hally’s side project, FRGL Skates brand, is comprised of more advanced skaters who he mentors to become coaches for the newer skaters. They even signed their first girl recently!
The community effort continues as Skate Angels (skate moms), help Hally keep everything running smoothly by assisting with some of the administrative tasks and first aid needs to give him more time with the kids.
“Really at the end of the day I don’t think of Sk8 Skool so much as a class. … It’s a space for kids to [spend time]. We do a life lesson, we do a skate lesson and then we skate. We teach every kid that if you’re better than the kid next to you, then you’re their teacher.”
Sk8 Skool crew has a set of 5 rules they abide by, which I think we can ALL learn from:
Character. Community. Sk8 (In that order)
You HAVE to do what you HAVE to do BEFORE you do what you WANT to do!
Pain can be your friend. (It has a lot to teach you)
You learn more from your MISTAKES than your Victories. (But, always celebrate your victories).
Remember you are FRAGILE, so you must learn BALANCE!
If you master these lessons, then you will be “ABOVE THE BOARD”
Hally says the most common feedback he receives from parents is not that the kids are better skaters, but rather that they’re better people. Recently, a parent gushed that in just two weeks of Sk8 Skool, their kid was more polite and even washed the dishes more regularly.
But, skate skills do improve in leaps and bounds too.
“We have kids come at the beginning of the summer who have never been on a board before, and then we take them to the West Van skate park at the end of the summer and they’re riding on ramps,” he remarks proudly.
Being a non-profit, Sk8 Skool relies on donations, grants and sponsors. I’m proud to be one of his sponsors, among many other amazing community businesses.
The program costs $100 by donation. Families can also choose to provide a donation that covers the program costs for families who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
This year, Sunshine Coast Community Foundation provided funding to the Christian Life Foundation, which has sponsored Sk8 Skool’s community skate party - a showcase of skate culture on the coast, featuring big name skate brands like Vans, Skull Skates and RDS.
Sk8 Skool runs July 11-26 and August 8-23 with an end-of-summer field trip to the West Vancouver Skate Park on August 29. Weekly classes are run from on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30pm-5:30pm.