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This year’s theme is “Dude, be nice,” and Smith, who founded the nonprofit Skate for Change, spoke to the students about the value of helping those less fortunate and leaving a legacy of kindness, rather than a legacy of self-importance or popularity.
Smith’s story started in South Dakota, where he first learned to skateboard during the fourth grade. It became his passion, until an older skater told him he was no good. Discouraged, Smith gave up skating for years.
When he was in the eighth grade, his family moved to Imperial, Neb. Smith described himself as “this invisible little kid” who wasn’t good at anything.
But by his sophomore year, his sports talents had started to blossom. He excelled at basketball, football and baseball.
“I started to buy into this idea that I was a really big deal,” Smith said.
He enjoyed the partying and drug scene, until one night, one of his closest friends died in a DUI crash on the way to a party.
From that moment on, Smith was determined to be different. He befriended a young freshman with learning difficulties and challenged his friends to accept him.
Once in college at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Smith began reaching out to the homeless population that lived near the campus, bringing them simple necessities like food and socks.
He got on his skateboard for the first time in years and began skating to the homeless village under the bridge on a daily basis. His campaign grew until he had more than 40 skaters going with him.
Skate for Change grew from there, as a national network of skaters who are committed to serving their community. Smith also founded The Bay, a nonprofit skatepark and youth center in Lincoln.
What he stressed to the West Ranch students is that they don’t have to live out society’s expectations for them, even though people see them as the most self-centered generation in history.
“I don’t believe that for a second,” Smith said.
He charged the students with being selfless, reminding them that life is never about the brand of clothes they wear, the kind of car they drive or how many sports records they break.
“What do you want to be remembered for?” he said. “…None of you are going to be remembered for being comfortable.”
Smith presentation was only one part of the week-long campaign at West Ranch.
ASB Director Todd Arrowsmith said that the Week of Kindness is scheduled at the beginning of the semester to set the tone for the whole school year.
Students will also participate in a “tuna and peanut butter” drive and a special fundraiser at Shave It ice cream parlor Tuesday night, to benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.
For more about West Ranch ASB and what their doing to inspire students to “be nice,” click here.
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Source: Santa Clarita News