Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m first-generation Canadian. My parents are from Jamaica. I have five siblings. Two sisters and two brothers. As a child I was around my brothers and uncles, so I took a liking to sports, as they did. I played basketball, street hockey, bike races, flag football, rode scooters, ran track, and played volleyball. Pretty much any sport, I enjoyed playing. I was about 13 when I got into skateboarding. I skated a lot and eventually had sponsors. In 2009 I had a bad injury. I dislocated my ankle, shattered my tibia, tore all tendons in my foot. That set me back a lot and it was difficult to get back on my board even after recovery.
I’m grateful that I opened the shop because it reminded me of how passionate I was about getting into the skateboard industry. There have been so many things that I’ve accomplished while running the shop. I started teaching skateboarding, hosted events, held giveaways, I was featured on multiple media broadcasts, won grants and contests for my community involvement, was a guest on many podcasts, participated in virtual live events with well-known skateboarders and photographers, followed on social media by pro skateboarders, mentioned on the Berrics and in Thrasher. Overall so many things. Opening my shop wasn’t just that alone. It was something that I needed because it opened the door to allow me to see who I really am and the person that I continue to craft myself to be. I never would have imagined that I would have done these things and reached so many people all around the globe.
I’d say my biggest passion is being a community activist within the skateboard community/ industry. This includes all skateboard communities not just here in Windsor, Ontario. But also continue to learn how to love myself and grow.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
Plain and simple, I’m passionate about helping people in need. Helping them the way I can help. And helping them by sharing the knowledge that I have. And for me that has been through skateboarding. My goal is mostly to help the youth, for some reason I feel that is an easy thing for me to do.
The passion has always been there. I remember when I was younger, in high school, I wanted to coach basketball. I don’t play basketball anymore and it wasn’t something that worked out for me. But skateboarding did and has been working. It’s something that has been with me for a long time. So now, I give back to the youth in different communities by providing skateboard lessons. I’ve partnered with CUP in Windsor to help with skateboard classes for the kids. And it’s been great so far. I have a grass roots organization – Boards in the Hood – and it helps to put skateboards in the hands of children and teens.
The idea to do this really took off when I went to Jamaica and hosted my first skateboarding event – Skate of Emergency. I have a short video about it on my YouTube page (Bliss Skate Shop). I loved the feeling of getting the community involved and helping who ever I could. I wanted to also do this at home.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
One strategy I would suggest is to be open minded. Understand that we are in changing times and that there are new ways to implement different training methods that may work a lot better than old ways. Listen to the younger generation and allow them to teach us as much as we want to teach them. In my opinion the biggest thing about being diverse is to accept difference and not be judgmental. Skateboarding has always been diverse even when it didn’t appear that way. And those who stuck with difficulties of being a “different” skater are those who helped to make it as diverse as it is today.
If you had 25 words worth of advice to share, what would you say?
Figure out who you are – what brings you happiness and joy. Once you know that, follow your heart and go for it.
Our Boards in the Hood Program takes donations all year round, this helps to fund our skateboard lessons and provide equipment to those who sign up. We also accept gently used skateboards, and skateboard parts. I take the parts and build new skateboards and hand them out to the community. I have provided a link below.