La Jolla

Father's Day and Juneteenth celebrations collide in Paddle for Peace at La Jolla Shores

Dozens of families spent Father’s Day 2023 learning to surf at La Jolla Shores on Sunday

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It’s the third year Paddle for Peace and Surfrider San Diego host the event to commemorate Juneteenth. This time, the event happened to fall on Father's Day weekend.

"I'm here to enjoy the Father's Day festivities at the Juneteenth La Jolla Shores Park and I have my son out there ... he's ready to get out there and get some surfing going,” said Tyreece Kyle, father of one of the participants.

Kyle is among the dozens of dads who spent their day making memories with their family at La Jolla Shores.

"I'm beginner, so I don't really know what I'm doing here, so I'm trying to learn to surf and have fun,” said Isabella Whitelaw, one of the participants.

"Yeah, everyone is kind of like what's going on, what is Juneteenth? What is Paddle for Peace? So we really take this opportunity to educate them on what Paddle for Peace is, why we need diversity at the coast, and then we invite them to come and join us, learn about Juneteenth, and celebrate Black joy,” said Risa Bell, founder of Paddle for Peace.

For me growing up, I didn't know anything about the Juneteenth history celebration and so having my kids grow up and having the understanding of Juneteenth and what it is, you know, for us as African American is very important,” Kyle said.

Jonathan Galendez is the surf instructor. He’s taught surf lessons for the past three years.

"People don't understand how raw this experience is because they've had it their whole lives. During my first event I had a child, he was 9 years old, his name was Ivan, it was his first time ever touching the ocean. His mom yesterday sent me another video of him taking another surf class,” Galendez said.

For him it’s more than sharing his passion for the sport, it’s about expanding access and exposure to leisure sports.

"I want these kids to have a window into a world they don't know exists,” Galendez said. "We're doing the work to try and diversify the coast with inner city kids and bring people of color and really just provide an experience for everyone because the beach should be a right and not a privilege."

Bell said this event is possible thanks to all the support they receive from different sponsors.

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