+swappow PLUS Foundation: Providing a community through skateboarding
GoPro’s very own Joe Dunnigan started an important organization dedicated to changing the lives of foster children forever. GoPro for a Cause is proud to support +swappow PLUS Foundation. The following words are by Joe, who goes by Director of Brand Strategy at GoPro and Founding Director at +swappow.
Children in foster care can have limited recreational options and often spend their after-school hours in passive or unhealthy ways. The +swappow PLUS Foundation is passionate about encouraging kids to get outside and express their creativity in healthy and fun ways through skateboarding.
Skateboarding is a natural remedy featuring few rules, endless possibilities and a focus on individuality within an accepting environment. It’s more than just another physical activity option for children – it’s a vehicle that provides the essential healing, motivation and satisfaction needed to have a healthy and happy life.
Through our programs, we are grateful for the opportunity to nurture hundreds of newfound friendships and a sense of accomplishment within our children. Doing so helps to provide healing and restoration from often traumatic childhood events.
Through the non-profit organization, we provide skateboarding events, lessons, equipment and mentorship to foster children to inspire, educate and affirm their pursuit of active, healthy lifestyles.
We help kids by hosting skateboarding events in a welcoming and safe environment. We provide new skateboards, helmets and t-shirts to event participants, as well as mentorship, skills training and vocational guidance to small groups. We strive to grow and maintain a supportive community for all foster children.
Beyond teaching important vocational and life skills, we also show kids how to master the art of flow. Exciting neuroscience research confirms that the cognitive condition of flow is achieved through action sports like skateboarding and is proven to encourage intrinsic motivation, life satisfaction and even healing from traumatic events.
We’re able to make our programs a reality in part through our strong action sports industry and community partnerships including Vans, Sanuk, Globe and Whitewave Longboards as well as Arizona State University and the Arizona Community Foundation.
Our operation has been primarily funded by acquiring a warehouse full of unwanted inventory from brands and businesses and by reselling those items using online platforms. Our aim is to pass on this self-starting, entrepreneurial spirit to every adolescent we mentor.
The support of GoPro to help us visually tell the +swappow PLUS story has proven to be one of our most beneficial gifts to date. GoPro is about the promotion of helping people to get out and live it, so our organization aligns well with GoPro’s mission. At the same time, GoPro’s cameras will, we believe, be a constant in our future as we encourage foster kids to document and share their experiences with others to help perpetuate the good of skateboarding and to promote continued progression and personal growth.
The potential for positive impact through the foundation is perhaps most clearly told by the mother of a foster child who attended one of our first events:
“After six years of struggling with an addiction, my foster son discovered that skateboarding could be his new drug of choice at your recent skateboarding event. He has now been clean for four months for the first time since he was 10. Thanks to your organization, his new passion is skating. He spends every free minute learning new tricks”