Exposure Skate empowers female skateboarders

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SAN DIEGO -- A local nonprofit aims to get women and girls of all ages into the skate park and onto a skateboard. Tabitha Lipkin explains how Exposure Skate provides women with a place to learn while giving back.

"After seeing my own girls start skateboarding when they were 6 and 8, I saw the positive life lessons that came from that right away -- like the pushing through fear, the falling and getting back up, over and over and over again to accomplish what you want. And their confidence levels shot through the roof," founder and director Callie Kelsay said.

Exposure Skate started as an event in 2012 and has now grown into a nonprofit with programs for women and girls of all ages.

Shelby Backman, now 41, started skating when she was 37 after watching an Exposure Skate event. "I saw other women -- I wouldn't say older age, but not young girls -- skating and it was amazing to know that women of all ages were doing this in big bowls and pushing their limits. I had never seen anything like it before."

Now Backman is a competitive skateboarder and teaches programs with Exposure Skate.

Co-founder Amelia Brodka joined the team after she noticed a lack of support for women in the industry. "We have been doing a huge event in San Diego for the past eight years. We bring over 160 girls from 15 countries (together) and we donate the proceeds to survivors of domestic violence."

Over the years, Brodka has seen significant changes for females in skateboarding. "There are tons of little girls that are better than the pros now. It's amazing to see the growth and to see the amount of girls skating all around the world."

Skate Rising is a program with Exposure Skate that paves the way for kids to take part in community involvement. In the past, participants have packed backpacks for kids in need and made activity kits for Rady Children's Hospital. But these projects aren't limited to those with local focuses.

"We have an international day of service where six cities around the world were focused on feeding the need of the homeless and building kits as well," Kelsay said.

Skate Rising is striving to build the future of female skateboarders.

"It has just impacted me so much because I get to see a ton of new girls skate," Kirra Kelsay said.

"I came to the skate park and I saw Kirra dropping in, and we became really good friends and now we see each other a lot and skateboard together," Emma Townsend said.

"Skate Rising is so ... It's kind of hard to explain, because it just does so much good and encourages girls to skate. It's usually more thought of as a boys' sport," Brynley Beckman said.

"I think that girls in general are really cool, but now that they've become skateboarders, they're more well known in the skateboarding industry, it's really fun. Just because you're a girl doesn't mean you can't do as many athletics as boys," Aubrey Kelsey said.

Follow these links to learn more about Exposure Skate and Skate Rising .

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