By Darryl George, Urban Shredderz
In an environment where there is no immediate access to an industry largely perceived as only for those with money and from particular backgrounds; I set out to bridge this gap.
In 2017, Urban Shredderz was created with the purpose of encouraging those of pan-African heritage and urban communities to participate in snowsports. I aimed to build a community of likeminded people that shared my vision of overcoming stereotypes and cultural taboos. I wanted to dispel the urban myths associated with snow related activities.
As with most things it started out with a small group of friends taking our first winter trip abroad. The lack of diversity was evident, as we did not see many people that looked like us, but we didn’t let this impact our experience, which was unforgettable; we were hooked.
After a memorable trip, I wanted others to experience it too. I shared videos I had edited with family and friends. I quickly saw people were interested and most wanted to learn, so I decided to look for the closest facilities to London where people could learn.
A fun-time classic, I’m sure many are familiar with, is Cool Runnings; known for its vibrant characters, underlying message of overcoming adversity whilst doing it in a unique authentic style. I wanted to create an inclusive environment that embraced Afro-Caribbean and UK street culture; as well as allowing those not familiar with either culture to also feel welcomed. I wanted a space where we could be represented whilst also engaging with the wider snowsports community.
I also remember watching several events during the 1998 Winter Olympics as a child; I thought snowboarding looked really cool and something I wanted to try. I knew other people shared that same feeling but like me were unaware of how and where to get involved in such an activity.
I decided to arrange an event called The Linkup where people could come together by learning how to snowboard or ski. Afro-Caribbean participation is considered as extremely low within snowsports, which could be linked to several reasons, such as communities having limited or no access to facilities to learn. Therefore, I believed The Linkup would create much needed awareness and inspiration for people to give snowsports a try.
We provided a vibrant space where people socialise whilst snowboarding and skiing. With a community of participants with mixed skill levels, people are able to share their experiences and knowledge with each other; which helps everyone improve. We’ve witnessed people start as novices to go on to become intermediate and advanced riders.
I have seen interest grow as we continue to host events, allowing people to join the community, improve their skills and most importantly socialise with likeminded people. We have to-date a connected community of 600+ people.
We arrange annual trips aboard to several locations which provide newbies with the opportunity to experience the real thrill of snowboarding and skiing in nature; whilst being in the company of good vibe people.
We have several ideas we would like to explore to help increase participation and diversity within under-represented communities. We’ll announce all upcoming events on our social media platforms, e-newsletter and website.
Official Website www.urbanshredderz.co