Date of Submission
Project Advisor 1
My senior thesis explores the role of skateboarding in youth development, and its further implications within the realm of youth advocacy and activism. A large part of my project involves ethnographic fieldwork in which I participate in a skate clinic for the Harold Hunter Foundation (HHF), a non-profit organization that primarily serves at-risk youth in New York City through skateboarding-related programming. Founded in memory of professional skateboarder Harold Hunter, the foundation also seeks to provide support and advocacy for the skateboarding community. While practicing self-reflexivity, I draw from the field of halfie anthropology, given that I am an avid skateboarder myself who grew up in New York City. Set in Brownsville, Brooklyn, I write about my experiences as an ad-hoc skate instructor for the clinics as well as my conversations with HHF staff and youth mentors. Another part of my research involves conducting interviews with young, local skateboarders at a skatepark commonly known as “51”. I interpret their experiences around skateboarding to gain a fuller understanding of how such an activity can provide certain benefits for young people. In doing so, I hope to center the voices of skateboarders who oftentimes find themselves as misrepresented or lacking adequate support from structured settings such as school. However, I also take a critical lens to the skateboarding community as one full of contradictions in terms of valuing acceptance and freedom of expression. Specific to Brownsville, I attempt to amplify the voices of those who’ve found themselves stuck within the nonprofit industrial complex while pointing to how skaters often have to navigate these systems of power that are pitted against them. Further, I explore how skaters, particularly those from at-risk backgrounds, challenge capitalist notions of youthhood and adulthood through various forms of community-building and through occupying liminal spaces. This project will hopefully encourage an increase in public support for these vulnerable populations, and an advocacy for skateboarders as a whole.
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Nichoson, Simon Len, ""Useful Wooden Toys": Skateboarding as a Tool for NYC Youth Advocacy" (2021). Senior Projects Fall 2021. 17.
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