Blake Rhodes grew up in Scottsdale with a dad who loved to skateboard.
He eagerly took to his dad’s interest, spending his childhood skateboarding with his friends.
“I stepped away from skateboarding when I joined the Navy and started working and having a real career, but came back to it when our oldest son wanted to learn, and he quickly got me back into it,” Rhodes says.
Throughout the years as a skateboarder, Rhodes learned about a practice called “earning.”
As he explains, the term refers to when a person doesn’t have a skateboard, but wants to try to get one.
“At most skateparks, people will let someone use their skateboard to try and learn something new, and when they learn whatever it is they are trying to do, the person will give the other person something towards their skateboard like wheels, trucks, or an old skateboard deck, because they showed a level of commitment to earn it.”
A couple of summers ago, Rhodes noticed a young boy at the local skateboard park working hard for weeks to earn his first skateboard made up of used parts, only to have the used deck snap.
“I immediately thought of all my old boards that were just sitting in my garage collecting dust but still had plenty of life still in them, and so my family and I went back to grab him one,” he says, adding that the look of excitement and appreciation on the boy’s face after he handed him the board was priceless.
This experience inspired Rhodes and his wife, Jenny, to think about how many other people probably have gently used skateboards sitting around that others could use.
“The concept of paying it forward with used skateboarding equipment gave life to Skate It Forward PHX.”
Blake and Jenny founded Skate It Forward PHX in July of 2021. The couple, both teachers in Scottsdale, has one key goal: To provide everyone with the opportunity to have access to skateboards and skateboard equipment.
As Rhodes notes, Skate It Forward PHX collects used and new skateboard donations, as well as equipment, and then “pays it forward” by making any needed repairs and then giving them to people who are in need of one.
“It doesn’t matter how old someone is, or their gender, their area code, ethnicity, or anything else, because we want everyone to know they can get a skateboard and use it as a positive and healthy outlet in their life,” he says.
Although Rhodes says he and Jenny were not sure if Skate It Forward PHX would catch on, they were pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction and flood of donations from the skateboarding community.
“We use Instagram as our go-to for connecting with the community and usually meet most people for donations or deliveries at a skatepark close to wherever they live in the Phoenix area,” he says. “The aspect I enjoy most since we started Skate It Forward PHX is the people in this community and the look on peoples’ faces when we give them a board or equipment.”
Rhodes is also extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the skateboarding community.
“Scottsdale and the surrounding cities have people doing incredible things in the skateboarding community every day all over Arizona,” he says, adding that they have already been able to get hundreds of boards back under people’s feet to keep them skateboarding.
“Hearing people’s stories whenever we meet up with them and some of the trials and tribulations they’ve gone through, but learning how they still found a will to continue pushing on, is immensely humbling and motivating at the same time.”
Instagram: @sk8it4wardphx; Facebook: sk8it4wardphx; or SkateItForwardPHX@gmail.com