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GOOD 100: Meet Miles Jackson, Skating for Change

Nelson Mandela once spoke of the importance of sport for its ability to inspire and unite people. He said it had the power to change the world for “it

Nelson Mandela once spoke of the importance of sport for its ability to inspire and unite people. He said it had the power to change the world for “it speaks to youth in a language they understand…It is an instrument for peace.”


Skate ambassador Miles Jackson takes these words to heart.

Back in 2010, Jackson first visited Cuba as part of the University of Michigan’s study abroad program, but quickly became immersed in the local skate scene after befriending a few Cuban skaters in the neighborhood. Upon returning to the States, Jackson reflected on all the heart, promise, and skill he saw in his new friends and the greater Cuban skate community, as well as the troubling lack of resources for these young athletes. Fellow student Lauren Bradley, who had attended the same study abroad program and also found camaraderie in the Cuban skate scene, and Jackson put their heads together to start Cuba Skate, aimed at bringing gear and moral support to the Cuban boarding community. Cuba Skate has also raised money to repair Havana’s sole skate park, and will expand their outreach efforts to Puerto Rico this year.

With the motto “bringing boards, resources, and better opportunities to Cuban youth,” Jackson and Bradley focus not only on skateboarding and the greater good the sport is capable of, but making cultural connections that has the potential to bridge gaps between generations and countries.

This fall, Jackson and Bradley are traveling to Puerto Rico bearing skate gear and funds, intending to repair some of the local parks. When they arrive, Jackson says, they will check out what other ways they can help support the community and raise awareness for the skate community.

“We've been in touch with pro skater Manny Santiago and graffiti muralist Sofia Maldonado, both Puerto Rican natives, and plan to collaborate with them,” Jackson says. “If we can continue to spread the word through social media, raise funds, secure grants, and connect with pro skaters and skate magazines, we will be in great shape.”

And Jackson won’t stop with Puerto Rico—he hopes to travel to another Latin American country this year, bringing skate gear and enthusiasm to underserved communities. Throughout the year, Jackson will be hosting community fundraisers and events in the Washington D.C. area, and this month, he’s planning to host a large skateboard art exhibition in New York City.

Be on the lookout for Cuba Skate’s documentary on skateboarding culture, set to premiere late this summer.

Today, tune in to GOOD’s new Google Hangout series, GOOD Ideas, where Miles Jackson will be discussing unconventional ways to engage and support youth with GOOD’s Creative Director, Casey Caplowe, and other inspiring activists for youth issues. Tune in here on good.is.

Follow Miles Jackson here.

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