HERA - Amber Clyde Founder Girls Skate NZ
Amber Clyde, founder of Girls Skate NZ, talks about the challenge of being a young woman at the skatepark and how she has used her experience to create skateboarding classes for young women and girls to be physically active through skate!
‘Never give up!’ that’s what I used to tell myself, and still do! I began skating at my local skatepark in Birkenhead when I was 10 years old. Every time I went down there I was the only girl, none of my friends at the time were interested in skateboarding, I struggled with confidence to speak to anybody at the park and there were no classes to learn how, so I had to try and teach myself.
As a young girl growing up with a love for skateboarding, I personally really struggled, I lacked the confidence to skate in front of people and to try new tricks. I found myself sitting in the corner of the skatepark most of the time too shy and scared to get involved. It didn’t help that I was picked on by some of the older boys from school who skated at the same park too. After that I slowly lost motivation and confidence to go down to the back and therefore lost interest in skateboarding altogether.
A couple years later, I decided to join the gym and began creating my own fitness plans. This lit a fire in me, I enjoyed being physically active again as I became stronger and felt healthier both physically and mentally. I wanted other young women and girls to feel the same and decided to become a qualified personal trainer!
Life always finds a way to challenge us
I was halfway through my degree when I found out I was pregnant. I chose to ignore those who told me to quit studying and work full time. Instead, I chose to attend night classes and worked full time. I ended up graduating when I was eight months pregnant.
After giving birth to my beautiful daughter I wanted to experience that fire in me I once felt. I began going to the gym again, this time with my daughter, and fell back into a routine of enjoying being active.
It wasn’t long before I felt unmotivated, much like other young women my age, and wanted to try something new. It had been a long time since I’d been on a skateboard, but I found myself looking for the board again – best decision ever!
Girls Skate NZ
This time I wanted to take my love for skateboarding to a new level, so I started teaching others. I had this idea after working part time at another skate school of starting my own girls-only skateboarding classes – free but with the option of a gold coin donation for the Breast Cancer Foundation. I decided I would try and get a few girls together on a Sunday morning so other young women and girls could make some friends and feel empowered to try ticks and skills in a welcoming environment.
Before I knew it, I had a group of 28 girls attending classes! One of the best parts about all of it is watching the relationships form between the girls. There are girls from complete opposite sides of Auckland who have met at the classes and are now best friends and skate together every day. I am so blessed to have been able to witness hundreds of girls connect through their shared love of skateboarding and, to me, I think that has to be the most rewarding part of what I do.
Looking back I don’t recall ever seeing other female skateboarders at my local skatepark. I had heard of a few, but never ever saw any. As for now, I don’t think I can go to a skatepark without seeing a girl there. It’s amazing and opens up so many opportunities for girls and skateboarding in New Zealand!
What’s next for Girls Skate NZ?
Over the past year we have been able to take our classes into schools and wider areas of Auckland with help and support from local Council.
I welcomed the birth of my second daughter in February this year, she has been carted along to the skatepark with me! I’m hoping to run another female skate competition later this year and would like to run some extra classes in Auckland to help make skate more accessible to girls. So watch this space!
I’m currently running eight classes a week, four of which are run in school and the other four are run afterschool at different skateparks on the weekend. It’s been great seeing schools get involved and allowing me to run lessons during lunch time with the girls.
During the school holidays I run four classes across different skateparks and hold a ‘six-day skate tour’, taking girls around the different parks in Tāmaki Makaurau. This is always a good time. Thanks to the skate community, Radio NZ and The Project, I was fortunate to fundraise for a van so I could help with travel and take approximately nine girls around with me for the skate tours.
For more information about Girls Skate NZ and how to get involved in classes, see here.
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