Build Ramps Not Walls (BRNW) is a project that began with a tight knit Mexican and American skate community on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Looking for a positive response to the negative rhetoric between Mexico and the United States of America after the U.S.A. 2016 Presidential Elections, this diverse skate crew decided to come together a build a new ramp with the same construction materials that would be used to build the alleged wall between Mexico and the U.S.A. We designed the ramp, fundraised the money and brought together a group of over 40 volunteers from both sides of the border to build. With each day of construction, we saw that by building a ramp together, the community was not just pouring concrete. We were also promoting an ethic of hard work, encouraging youth leadership, sharing positive role models for local kids, and communicating across culture and language barriers with tolerance and the shared passion of skating. By building this ramp together, our community was opening opportunities for youth skaters in the region to improve their skills on better ramps without having to move to the big city or cross the border. We have put our skate community on the map for potential sponsors by documenting our project in a film and gaining attention for our region. Most importantly, we have offered an alternative solution to how to respond to the divisive rhetoric coming down from politicians these days.
Since our first build, the skate community saw the positive impact that the project had on all the kids involved and has joined forces across Mexico to build more ramps. We have now built three ramps with diverse and yet very unified crews of bi-national skaters. We are attempting to solve the problem of disenfranchised youth in communities who want to create their own opportunities in life and to encourage them to make a difference with their passion.
The project has grown into a three pronged mission. 1.) To build skate ramps in disenfranchised communities, 2.) To help skaters reach their full potential and help new skaters come to the sport by offering trainings, contests, workshops and classes in the new ramps. 3.) To create mentorship relationships between local skaters and national pro skaters involved in the builds to keep kids on a successful life path, which includes skating to your full potential, staying in school, mapping out a career path and becoming a productive and supportive member of your community.
We interact with our community in three ways. First, our organization works with skate communities who meet specific criteria to build unique ramps in their area to bring together the skate community, local residents and local government in a partnership designed for the skate community and by the skate community. Second, we help plan and implement trainings, contests, workshops and classes in the new ramps to engage local skaters in improving their abilities as well as to bring new youth to the sport and away from other potentially destructive activities. Third, we create mentorship relationships with talented local skaters and national pro skaters so that our youth can develop a life path that leads them to be successful and productive members of their communities. This three pronged approach has allowed us to touch a larger group of young skaters and to drill down with specific talent to open opportunities for kids that would not otherwise know how to create their own path to success.