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David Hale Skate & Art Workshop

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Last week, the Conscious Alliance team hopped back in a 26-foot Penske truck, filled to the brim with donated furniture, clothing, and personal items along with 5,000 lbs. of food (collected at The String Cheese Incident’s Red Rocks shows).  We headed back up to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, this time accompanied by our friend and longtime supporter, David Hale. David, while having contributed his artwork to Conscious Alliance since 2007, had never been to the reservation and was eager to learn more about the community he had been supporting. Together, with our partner organization, the Stronghold Society and Looks For Buffalo Foundation, we planned a youth skate & art workshop at the Wounded Knee 4 Directions Skate Park in Pine Ridge Village. This would be the first of our youth art workshops to be held on the reservation.

The lesson was to make something beautiful from something broken, and to learn how to use our surroundings – whatever they may be – to inspire creativity. To do this, David taught the kids how to make bird sculptures from broken and damaged skateboard decks.

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As kids filtered into the skate park, they were each given a sketchbook and a pencil. The group brainstormed different ideas – owls, cardinals, eagles and ravens – and one by one, sketched out their birds. Their bird shapes were then each transferred onto a damaged deck and cut out. The group then used paints and paint pens in the colors of the medicine wheel (black, yellow, white and red) to make their birds come to life.  The kids exhibited a level of creativity and excitement that truly moved us all.

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The Wounded Knee 4 Directions Skate Park was opened in October of 2011 and has since served as a center of community in the youth population on Pine Ridge. We wanted to use this workshop as an opportunity to teach the kids to take care of the space and also to give back to the community they had created. After making their bird sculptures, we encouraged a massive skate park cleanup. Every kid who participated in helping to clean up the skate park received a brand new, complete skateboard, generously donated by Santa Cruz Skateboards, Board Rescue, Independent Trucks and BC Surf + Sport. In total we gave away 50 complete decks including 20 decks designed by David Hale himself (Davide Hale Skate Decks).

 The park was created in the spirit of providing a healthy and positive outlet for the community’s youth. The teenage suicide rate on the reservation is 150% higher than the national average, presenting the need for a positive, physical outlet for youth in the Pine Ridge community. David Hale’s workshop was intended to mirror this spirit by inspiring creativity and encouraging the growth of this youth community.

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