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Spinifex Skateboards teaching kids how to 'pick themselves back up'

Grace Crivellaro -

In the heart of the central Australian desert, Spinifex Skateboards has established a skate scene that supports Indigenous youth in the remote community of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa).

To top off their first year, the social enterprise took out a Northern Territory Human Rights Award last week in Darwin for their work supporting kids through skateboarding.

More than a typical skate company, Spinifex Skateboards of the Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation (AAAC) established the first indoor skatepark in Ltyentye Apurte in 2015 to give young people a "chance to try new things and be engaged on other levels".

Behind the brand is proud Arrernte man and Traditional Owner of Ltyentye Apurte, Nicky Hayes, backed by AAAC program manager Georga Ryan.

After skateboarding at a professional level, Hayes returned home and became the NT's first Indigenous accredited skate instructor.

Hayes said skateboarding has always given him something special which he wanted to pass onto the kids in the community.

"It's not only about the self-confidence, but it also keeps people active," he told NIT.

Proud Arrernte man, Traditional Owner of Ltyentye Apurte and youth worker, Nicky Hayes, is the founder of Spinifex Skateboards. Photo supplied.

When the indoor skatepark was built, Spinifex Skateboards evolved into a brand that raises money to facilitate skate tours for Indigenous youth in the community.

Taking their first tour in Brisbane in January, kids were able to build confidence and self-esteem while exploring forests and beaches, which they had never seen before.

"It actually meant a lot to the kids, because the idea is that skating helps community and shows them what it's like outside of the community group, and also outside Country," Hayes said.

"It gave them opportunity to see what's going on interstate."

With cross-cultural learning and development in young people a big component of the enterprise, Hayes hopes to build a positive future for the kids through skating.

"[It's about] teaching kids skateboarding in a way that they can learn good life skills," he said.

"They learn how to fall properly and also pick themselves back up."

Hayes said he is very proud of receiving the Northern Territory Human Rights Award last Thursday.

"I'm very proud of our team that we have as well and showcasing that skateboarding is something that can make a difference."

Focusing on engaging local artists in the community, Spinifex Skateboards makes skateboards, tees and other merchandise. All proceeds from sales go towards skate tours to various parts of the country.

Local Artist Emma Hayes hand painted a board for Spinifex Skateboards that was sold at an auction fundraiser for the skate trip. Photo supplied.

Hayes said future plans for Spinifex Skateboards involve more tours.

Find more from Spinifex Skateboards and their merchandise here: https://www.spinifexskateboards.com/.

By Grace Crivellaro

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