In partnership with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) Recreation Department, the Shred Sirens is an all-female skateboarding group that runs out of Youth Centre in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
The group grew out of an existing beginner skateboard program run by the CBRM Recreation Department. It takes place year-round: in the summer month, at municipal skateboard parks across the community and in the fall and winter, at the two indoor skateboard sites at Undercurrent Youth Centre.
The program is very popular, and it removes a lot of barriers to participation. It’s drop-in based and free, gear is available for participants, and it’s accessible via bus routes across the community. Despite these factors and the high participation numbers, instructors realized that not many girls and women were taking part.
Empowering females through skateboarding
Enter the Shred Sirens. This is an instructor-certified all-female skateboard group where members of all ages and abilities have an opportunity to develop, learn, and polish their skills. The goal: enjoy skateboarding for life. The group’s mission is to empower more ladies to find their place in the skate community.
Heather Malcom is a parent of one of the only girls who attend the CBRM summer skate program. She is also a Shred Siren. Deep down, she always wanted to pick up a board:
I’ve been wanting to start since I was in junior high, but a mix of bullying and anxiety stopped me. I always thought it looked like such a fun and cool challenge. In 2018, I started to do things that scared me to help my anxiety. I found Shred Sirens on Instagram, and their next skate night was on my birthday. I decided that going was my gift to myself. Early morning on my birthday, my father passed away. Knowing my dad would want me to be happy and not wallow, I made myself go the next week. The support and encouragement from the Shred Sirens quite literally saved my life. I’ve never felt more welcome than I did at that first session.
The program teaches skills and provides social benefits to all ages
Adam Mackenzie, the skateboard instructor who oversees the CBRM’s skateboard program, agrees with Malcom. “I believe the Shred Sirens are so successful due to the rarity of girls skateboarding and that skater bond that forms once you have a skateboard in your hands. You automatically become friends, doesn’t matter of age, gender or race. What makes the program so cool is the random girls who come together and end up leaving as friends like they have been friends all their lives.”
Skateboarding is becoming more popular. It’s even going to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo.
“Some of the girls (in the program) would have found skateboarding outside of Shred Sirens eventually, but maybe only 10 percent of the group,” Mackenzie estimates.
“Lots of girls want to try it but the parks are so crowded with guys, most girls are too nervous to go into the park. Shred Sirens gives them that community support they all needed.”
The program runs Sunday evenings at Undercurrent Youth Centre. For information please check out its Facebook page.