A Fredericton skateboarder is trying ensure some kids have the equipment they need to take part in the sport.
Craig Vezina recently started Skate-it-Forward Fredericton to donate skateboards, shoes and safety equipment to youth who need new gear, but don't have the means to purchase it on their own.
Vezina said he recently got back into skateboarding himself, and spent some time fixing up his old equipment. Realizing he had more equipment than he needed, he decided to donate his extras.
"I refurbished some boards, I fixed up some bearings, some wheels and trucks. I put it all together and I gave it to some kids down at the park — and then it grew from that," he said.
Vezina said he grew up in a low-income situation in rural New Brunswick and relied on a skateboard as a means of transportation. He was also able to feel part of a community with other skateboarders.
"It kept us out of trouble," he said.
Since he started donating equipment about a month ago, Vezina said he's outfitted ten kids, and has nearly raised two-thousand dollars to purchase 20 new skateboards for a Fredericton area middle school.
Vezina said the appreciation from parents surprised him the most, so he decided to build on the momentum and reached out to some of his friends to see if they had extra equipment to donate to the cause.
"The look in a child's face when you give them a free skateboard is something that you cannot explain to people. It is unbelievable, that feeling."
Vezina has also received monetary donations from people who want to help the cause, but don't have any equipment to donate.
11-year-old Riley Sacobie has new shoes and a skateboard that Vezina gave to him through the Skate-it-Forward initiative.
Sacobie said his old skateboard wasn't usable anymore, and he was borrowing his dad's shoes to go skateboarding.
"It was at the breaking point of it, that it was snapping every time I stepped on it because it was so broken, and old — the bolts were rusty," he said.
Vezina reached out to the family, and offered Sacobie a new skateboard and new pair of skate specific shoes.
Sacobie's father, Kevin, said he's grateful for Vezina's generosity and that his son has been beaming ever since.
"It really puts a smile on my face, and I'm pretty sure he [Riley] hasn't smiled this much in a long time."
The sixth grader has been at Fredericton's new skate park during all his free time since Vezina's donation.
And now he feels like part of a new community, learning how to skate and meeting new people.
"It's a great community, everyone is really nice and supportive when you're trying to learn new stuff and they always help you throughout that journey," Riley said.
Kevin said he's happy to see his son outside being active right now.
Vezina said it's been a rewarding experience for him helping the younger generations and having people like Riley appreciate his efforts.
"I've cried many, many good tears since I've started this program," he said.