Noah McManus is a skateboard instructor -- he teaches a special year-long skateboarding curriculum to at-risk disadvantaged youth at James Lick Middle School. But exactly what he lectures on changes day to day: some days it’s about the importance of community, and on others it’s about overcoming adversity. And just about every day it’s about discovering your creative self amid the contagious enthusiasms of skateboarding.
In the four years since he began his work at the school, McManus and his students have built the Jamestown Community Skating Club, which is dedicated to teaching the art and history of skateboarding. For the San Francisco Exploratorium, they also built the Science of Skateboarding Parklet with four murals created in collaboration with the Precita Eyes murals association and visual designs for more than 200 skateboards. They’ve also partnered with local companies and shops to provide every Jamestown Community Skating Club student with a new skateboard.
“The art-based curriculum,” McManus explains, “has really helped students feel more confident in expressing themselves and their life skills. Some of these kids are two steps away from joining a gang, or dropping out of school. Their families are being pushed out of the Mission, and they, themselves, are being pushed out of their comfort zones. Many of the kids they have grown up with are gone or leaving. A skateboard gives them a new friend, an outlet, a tool to help them learn the lessons they’ll need to get through school and to get ahead in adult life.”