The Coast News Group
Rollin From The Heart received a $30,000 donation from the show “Returning the Favor” with Mike Rowe. The show surprises people doing “good work” in their communities with a monetary gift. Courtesy photo

Young skateboarders roll into the hearts of Carlsbad seniors

CARLSBAD — While skateboarding and seniors may not be the most likely combination, the two collided at a recent event in Carlsbad.

Residents of La Costa Glen saw the likes of quarter pipes and ramps on the campus of their senior living community on Nov. 20 for a skateboard demonstration creating a new spin on intergenerational events thanks to nonprofit organization, Rollin’ From The Heart.

A dozen children ranging in age from 7 to 18 performed for the residents doing kick flips, ollies and nose grinds.

The senior residence asked its fitness manager, Alison Brown, and her husband, John Barry, to talk about their foundation Rollin’ From The Heart, launched after the loss of their son, Ian, an avid skateboarder.

Rollin’ From The Heart was created in his memory after he died in a tragic accident in 2012. It provides disadvantaged and at-risk youth the opportunity to participate in skateboarding, surfing and camping to promote a more active lifestyle and encourage positive choices. 

“Ian loved skateboarding and it helped him with his OCD and anxiety,” Brown said. “He got a release through skateboarding.”

Brown added skateboarding played a positive role in Ian’s life by helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

The foundation aims to carry on his memory and legacy by helping kids who don’t have a lot or come from broken homes, are homeless and need an outlet — that being skateboarding.

“We’ve come to learn that skateboarding can help teach kids kindness, love, tolerance and they love it,” Barry said. “I think gone are the days when skateboarding had a bad connotation and was only thought of as something that degenerates participated in. It has moved toward a positive sport; there are all types of skateboarding such as street, downhill, dance, freestyle. It really is a diverse action sport.”

“Skateboarding isn’t just for kids with mental health issues or behavior problems, “ Barry continued. “It teaches the value of failure and the lessons of life. It did that for Ian.”

Prior to the event, La Costa Glen Executive Director Keith Kasin said many of the residents were looking forward to the skateboarding demonstration and were excited to see the youngsters perform.

“This is an opportunity to bring more young kids onto the campus and have them mix with our residents,” he said. “We already have quite a few high school seniors that work here as waitstaff and they love it; they get along great with our residents. Many of our residents are very active and participate in a lot of sports, not skateboarding, but I think they are looking forward to watching what these young people can do on a skateboard.”

Resident Sue Rosen said it was an incredible event. “To see how motivated the kids are through skateboarding is amazing, she said. “I also like that it is tied to their academics.”

“This was my first chance to see anything about Rollin’ From The Heart,” resident Carol Streeter said. “It’s a great program that really reaches the kids. The work that Alison and John do really comes from their hearts.”

A phenomenon

“These days skateboarding has become a true phenomenon and kids are very active in skateboarding,” Barry said. “At the 2020 Olympics there will be a skateboarding event, so it has come a long way.”

In fact, Southern California is the epicenter of skateboarding, where kids of all ages enjoy the sport.

“Many girls have gotten into the sport; about 35 to 40 percent of our kids involved with Rollin’ From The Heart are girls,” Brown said.

And the foundation just continues to roll on.

In August, Rollin From The Heart received a $30,000 donation from the show “Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe. The show surprises people doing “good work” in their communities with a monetary gift.

“The host Mike Rowe saw something worthy in what we are doing in the community,” Barry said. “We intend on using the money to purchase a box truck so that we can take our program mobile. We have many schools that want our programs but need additional funding to start and maintain them.”

“Rollin’ From The Heart has had a fantastic year as we continue to grow,” Brown said. “We are currently at three locations in San Diego with five separate programs. We continue to serve underprivileged and at-risk youth in the county. We had three programs at the Monarch School this past year; Monarch serves homeless youth in San Diego.”

More kudos

Rollin’ From The Heart also received a grant from the San Diego Unified School District to teach a component of their Social and Emotional Growth program for the high school students in grades nine through 12.

“This was a very successful yearlong program; we end each grade level section with a Career Day field trip to a skateboarding-related business,” Brown said.

The trips have been very successful in opening the young adults’ minds to the possibilities of careers in business.

Added Barry, the foundation also co-partnered a program for 13 Monarch High School students. The school chose these kids for a STEM program based on designing and building their own skateboards. They were taught by an engineering student from San Diego State University. The kids had to study the math, science and physics behind skateboarding and then use the CAD computer program to design their own boards.

“They actually built their own boards in the wood shop at Monarch,” Barry said. “This was an incredibly rigorous curriculum. We were so proud of them. We also have weekly programs at Lifeline in Oceanside from K through sixth grade and the Keiller Leadership Academy down in Encanto for K through eighth grade. All of our facilities/schools are in neighborhoods with gang activity.”

Rollin’ also sent 15 kids to the YMCA Skate Camp in the Sequoia National Forest this summer bringing the total camp scholarships to 39.

“We have now given over 3,000 new pairs of shoes (thanks to support from Vans Shoes) and over 700 skateboards and safety equipment to the children in our programs,” Barry said. “We have also given five educational scholarships to high school graduates from our programs.”

The couple said it is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community in a way that honors their son. For more information about Rollin’ From The Heart, visit