Concrete, Boards, and Life Long Lessons: How This Middle School Club Empowers Girls

At the heart of Concrete Queenz, an all-girl skateboarding club, is a community with life-long lessons on friendship, determination, and empowerment.

Audrey Faison, who founded Concrete Queenz at Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School, created this space for young girls after recognizing many male-dominated skateboard programs. “This is their chance to learn this sport together, grow, share experiences, share in the failures, and celebrate one another when making progress,” Faison said. 

Faison began skateboarding during the spring of 2020 in Venice Beach, where she met most of the volunteers who participate in Concrete Queenz. Since spring of 2022, both Faison and the Concrete Queenz’s volunteers have mentored and taught more than twenty-five girls between 6th and 8th grade at Ánimo Mae Jemison. The club has also provided a skateboard, pads, and a helmet to each middle school skater through partnerships with Impala Skate, Arbor Skateboards, HLC Distribution, and Triple Eight.

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At Concrete Queenz, the members are good role models for one another and for all of Ánimo Mae Jemison’s students. Faison notes that Concrete Queenz’s philosophy is more than just learning to skate; it also requires academic consulting and monitoring, and most importantly reminding students to lead with integrity and kindness. 

In December of 2022, Concrete Queenz hosted its end-of-semester field trip at the Wilson Park skate park. The students put their practice to the test on ramps and bowls side by side with experienced skaters, sharing both space and community. 

The event was made possible through Concrete Queenz collaboration with local community groups. Inner Black Yoga began the morning event by leading the skateboarders and volunteers through a yoga and meditation session to center the group before skateboarding, provided by Inner Black Yoga. Impala Skate provided gifts and prizes for all participants. The Compton Cowboys, a group of childhood friends from the Richland Farms of Compton who use horseback riding and equestrian culture to improve their community, met with the skateboarders, standing as an example of a community that is built on a shared history and unique comradery. 

Apart from the inevitable scrapes and bruises from skateboarding, these students  have learned to tackle unfamiliarity with confidence. Concrete Queenz’s communal support pushes girls to realize their voices and take a seat at the table in a male-dominated sport. 

After a year of practice, most girls are comfortable riding, and those who aren’t as comfortable never hesitate to ask for a helping hand. As a captain of Concrete Queenz, Taraji Jackson, 8th grader, finds time to push her teammates. The tricks might be nice, but for Jackson, skating has also given her clarity in taking a step back when necessary. “Skating takes my mind off of things, and I feel better,” Jackson said, “no matter how many times you fall, you can always get back up and try again.” For these young girls, holding their own comes as easy as putting on knee pads, elbow pads, and helmets– but it starts with individual work.

Cultivating community comes easy for Concrete Queenz, and it was profound through the Wilson Park event. The skateboarders are surrounded by friends and supporters through the slide and grind over metal and concrete. These girls smile and laugh through the falls, share snacks during breaks, tell jokes, and hold members’ hands as they practice. They create and share joy. 

At Green Dot Public Schools California, supporting the whole child is our top priority. Concrete Queenz at Animo Mae Jemison allows girls to use skateboarding to build community, teach independence, and have a positive space for the girls to learn and grow together.

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