ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY — There’s a new movement in Atlantic City — the R.A.D. Movement — and it’s really cool.
Founded by area natives Greg Simmons, Jason Klotz and their skateboarding friends, this movement focuses on introducing area youth to skateboarding as an alternative to negative activities that they might choose when looking for things to do.
Greg and Jason both left the area after graduating from Oakcrest and Atlantic City High in 2002 and 2006 respectively.
They returned to the Atlantic City area to find what they call a “cultural void.”
Skateboarding is a culture, they explain to me, one they consider as a form of artistic expression rather than competition, though they know of skateboarders who compete. Last summer, for their first beach clean-up, they invited professional skateboarder Quim Cardona, who showed up to participate in the two-day event much to the delight of the 20 kids who participated. After the clean-up, they headed over to Gardner’s Basin for a boat ride and afterwards they were treated to a barbeque at Boom’s Market in A.C. and a water-balloon battle.
Though Greg and Jason like to include such fun activities, that is not the main focus of R.A.D., which stands for recreation and development and renaissance and discover among other things. They include the fun stuff, because they remember what they wanted and needed as young boys.
Greg says he began skateboarding with another latch-key friend (Devon Connell, now in Focus Skate Magazine) who showed him an ollie, where you make the skateboard jump off the ground. It was a way for them to entertain themselves until their parents got home from work. Jason began around the same age as Greg, around 12 or 13. He had tried surfing, but it didn’t appeal to him. Eventually, both young men fell in love with skateboarding and wanted to pass it on as a way of giving back to their community.
After high school, each went on to college, Greg to the Art Institute of Philadelphia (graphic design) and Jason to the Philadelphia College of Art (film and editing). They say skateboarding is relatively new in some of southern New Jersey but has a big, tight-knit community in Philadelphia, on the East Coast and in other parts of the country. They wanted to create an awareness here in Atlantic City for local youth.
While practicing behind the baseball field at Sovereign Avenue and the Bay, young children, mainly boys 11-17 who live nearby, began inquiring about their skateboarding skills.
Next thing you know, Greg, Jason and their friends were mentoring to the youngsters who showed up daily. They also began donating their used boards to the youngsters. R.A.D. grew organically from their efforts, and they were even able to acquire sponsors for the beach clean-up day, local and distant businesses and skateboard shops.
Greg and Jason said they would like a relationship with the CRDA, because they are the young artists in touch with the youth in this area. So far, they have not been able to establish such a relationship, but they are planning another event, this time a basketball and skateboarding mix.
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