The Red Bulletin June 2019

online.magazines

B U L L E V A R D

“THE MOST

REBELLIOUS

THING YOU CAN

DO IS TO STAY

WHO YOU ARE”

Very Old Skateboarders

SKATE OF MIND

In her sixties, Lena Salmi has created

a global skateboarding movement to prove

that the sport isn’t only for teens

I n February last year,

Facebook staged a showcase

on London’s South Bank,

where it exhibited photos

of its most inspiring groups.

Among them was an online

community of skateboarders.

But the group wasn’t chosen

in recognition of its members’

talents or awards. Far from

being teenage wonders, the

average age of the skaters was

closer to 60 than 16, and their

only care was skating for as

long as they could.

The Very Old Skateboarders

and Longboarders group is

a global movement of almost

4,000 skaters, aged largely

between 60 and 99, who are

challenging what the world

of skateboarding looks like.

It was founded in 2013 by

two women, Lena Salmi (now

65) and Elizabeth Stuart

(67), who believed they were

being judged unfairly because

of their age.

“When I met Elizabeth

[at a longboarding camp in

France], we felt like people

were treating us like old

ladies, like we couldn’t do

stuff,” says Salmi. “It made

us realise that no one can

treat us like that, and that we

were as good as anybody else.

We were inspired to make

a space that’s just for older

skateboarders.”

Come 2019 and the group

has snowballed into something

much bigger. Its Facebook

page is updated every day

with videos and photos of its

thousands of ageing skaters,

shot at skate competitions,

skate parks and even group

meet-ups across the world. Its

members have been filmed

for BBC documentaries and

interviewed by global media.

The group’s ethos, however,

has remained the same.

The only entry

requirement is that at some

point you’ve thought you

were too old to skateboard,”

says Salmi. “Our youngest

member was a 50-year-old

woman. People had asked

her, ‘Why are you doing that

kind of kids’ stuff?’”

According to Salmi, the

important thing to learn from

the Very Old Skateboarders

is to not judge on first sight.

“Open your mind and your

ideas,” she says. “Of course

skateboarding is rebellious

when you are 65, but, in my

opinion, the most rebellious

thing you can do is to always

stay exactly who you are.”

facebook.com/groups/

VeryOldSkateboarders

BEN AWIN/HYPEBAE LOU BOYD

22 THE RED BULLETIN

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