Meet Neal, A California Skateboarding Mentor In His 60s
Skateboarding isn't always associated with positivity and motivation. But Neal Unger and a non-profit called Next Up Foundation is rewriting the rulebook on how kids interact with skateboarding and skate culture.
Here's something that might surprise you: Neal is in his 60s. With shoulder-length white hair and expressive eyes, the lifelong skateboarder seems youthful despite his age, and he credits his dedication to skateboarding as part of what keeps him fit and feeling young.
"My greatest skateboarding accomplishment is that I'm still skating," Neal says.
Given his positive personal experience with skateboarding, Neal knew that an organization like Next Up Foundation—which hosts skateboarding after-school activities—could make a big difference in young people's lives as well. Next Up Foundation focuses on helping kids in low-income areas who lack parental guidance or struggle with negative peer pressure. Neal and his fellow mentors like Vina and Misael believe that skateboarding lessons can not only distract teenagers from temptations like alcohol and other drugs, but can also teach perseverance and confidence.
"Kids with nowhere to go end up going nowhere," is how Vina explained the need in Anaheim.
Skateboarding's challenges are part of what makes it so powerful: "When a kid falls down... you have a good excuse to talk to them," Neal says. "And say 'hey, keep trying to get that, that's pretty cool.'"
This awesome video was produced by Lucia Nazzaro and shot/edited by Jackie Turner. To see more videos like this, check out our HooplaHa YouTube page!