Lizzie Whelan is a new face to the skate community and comes out to all our events with a tight squad who are all always smiling. The last few years has seen a huge uptick in visibility for people in skateboarding, and a more diverse group of skaters getting meaningful recognition and mainstream spotlight. We are inspired by people like Lizzie who motivate us to help build our Ottawa skate scene. I asked Lizzie, who was at this event from start to finish, to share her story with skateboarding and this event. —Aaron Cayer
On Monday, November 18th, I attended Boards, Beers and Boobs, an event hosted by Birling, The Yard, Beyond the Pale, and Lululemon. From 3-10pm, The Yard kindly opened up their doors to any ladies or gender diverse people, and let them skate the park for free. My friends and I, being a bit overly eager to get back on our boards, arrived at the yard around 3:30 and didn’t leave until after 10.
It was such a great day, filled with familiar and new faces. This event gave girls of all ages and identities an opportunity to skate in a safe place, or even stand on a board for their very first time. The energy in the park was so positive, as people were teaching each other new tricks, yelling out chants of encouragement, or simply having conversations about skating. It was so heartwarming to see so many young girls come out and have the confidence to get on a board, while getting the chance to see so many female role models doing what they love.
I wish I had had the opportunity to attend more kinds of these events when I was younger. My first time riding a skateboard was in high school when my friends and I needed a way to get around town, and none of us had our driver’s license. We would take their older brother’s boards and skate to school, the park, the store, McDonald’s… basically everywhere 15 year olds would need to go. I never considered learning more than just pushing the board until about a year ago when my two girlfriends started going to the local skate park to try to improve their skills. Soon my other friend and I joined in and we had our own little girl group of skaters in Orleans. There were only four of us, but we soon learned just how much fun skateboarding could be. We wondered why more girls weren’t doing the same.
However, one day we decided to leave our comfort zone of Orleans and head downtown to Charlie Bowin’s skate park. That was the day we were introduced to Girls+ Skate 613. When we got to the park, there were lots of really great skaters there, most of them guys which made us feel pretty intimidated. But before we even got on our boards, we were greeted by some friendly females who told us about their group.
Since that day, we have been actively a part of Girls Skate; participating in weekly skate nights, local events, innovative fundraisers, and even road trips to other parks. Their group has made us feel so welcomed in the skate community, and has introduced us to so many amazing friendships with girls just like us. I feel so thankful to be apart of this community, especially when I get to participate in awesome events just like Boards, Beers and Boobs! —Lizzie Whelan
Photos by Aaron Cayer