When you think of longboarding, what are some of the images that spring to mind? Californian surfers hitting the streets? Palm trees rustling on the beach? Socio-political boundaries being shattered? Ontario-based longboarder Michael Brooke set out to make a change.

 

Longboarding for Peace is an exciting movement doing important things. Built around an ethos of peace, balance, and justice. LFP started in the Middle East and has expanded to over 25 countries since 2012.

 

 

A History of Longboarding for Peace

 

Using the simple act of longboarding, founder Michael Brooke has made it his mission to empower people around the world—particularly those affected by war and injustice.

 

By giving children the chance to experience longboarding for the first time, LFP is bridging cultural divides and trying to make a change. When people don’t have much, four wheels and a deck can mean a world of difference.Bonding over new experiences can truly bring us together. The innate humanity of learning something new forces people to work together and learn to have fun without needing a shared culture or language.

 

What makes Longboarding for Peace really stand out is their D.I.Y structure. Rather than existing as a charity or an NFP, Brooke firmly stands behind the idea that the movement should “belong to longboarders worldwide”.

Inspired by Skateistan, the not-for-profit building skate parks in Afghanistan, Michael Brooke thought he could do something similar. By taking longboards to one of the world’s most conflicted regions—the Palestinian/Israeli region—he set to work creating new experiences for children.

SONY DSC

Michael took his idea to Abraham Paskowitz of Carver Skateboards. Abraham suggested he contact Surfing 4 Peace for advice (led by famous surfer Arthur Rashkovan). Longboarding was a natural extension of surfing. Not only could more kids be involved, but there didn’t need to be waves. As long as there’s a road, it’s time to longboard.

 

Through Surfing 4 Peace, Michael was able to get in touch with Mathew Olson of Explore Corps who connected him to the Peres Center for Peace based in Jaffa, Israel. They helped with the logistics of organising Israeli-Palestinian events safely.

 

Breaking Boundaries

 

So, what’s the main idea behind Longboarding for Peace? There have been naysayers, but for fans of the sport, it makes perfect sense. Easy to pick up, simple and exhilarating, longboarding can transform urban areas into playgrounds.

 

‘Search/Spark/Stoke’ was the name of LFP’s first project that started at the Peres Center in Jaffa. Thanks to some smart cross-continental logistics things went by without a hitch. More than a dozen companies provided equipment.

 

What really struck LFP organisers was how quick Palestinian women were to take part in longboarding. Defying stereotypes, Israeli and Palestinian children of both genders took to the sport.Longboarding might have started in America, but the skating and surfing scene are global phenomena. Separate from any one culture, it’s the perfect tool to bridge boundaries. Outside of the Middle East, Michael Brooke’s organisation has been involved in similar campaigns in California, Texas and even Peru.

 

The whole “search, spark, stoke” mentality has led LFP and its followers to seek out new campaigns where the message of empowerment and peace could help.

In 1970, David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted of murder in Saskatoon. It took 22 years for him to be released, and he was only fully exonerated in 1997. Now, through LFP, Milgaard (along with other wrongfully convicted individuals) is promoting a message of compassion and courage by sharing his story with students who are studying law and sociology.

 

LFP now promotes Innocence Canada, an organisation which advocates for individual’s rights.

 

The Longboarding for Peace movement is truly versatile. With such a universal message of peace, and such an accessible and enjoyable activity to unite people, there doesn’t seem to be anything Brooke can’t work towards.

 

Visit LFP’s official website to learn more. The movement teamed up with the Hashtag Board Co. to design a range of clothes to support the cause.

 

All images kindly supplied by Longboarding for Peace.