Skateboards won’t solve the world’s refugee crisis, but they may help a little.
At least that's what a group of freshman and sophomore students at San Diego's High Tech High are hoping.
The students are taking part in something they call the "San Diego Sanctuary Project," part of a semester-long lesson in teacher Lisa Griffin’s humanities class which, in part, has the students building skateboards to send to refugees overseas.
The project aims to teach students about the refugee crisis spreading millions of Syrians around the world right now. San Diego is now the largest resettlement site in the U.S. for those refugees.
“I feel just really grateful, and moved, and inspired,” said Griffin when talking about how her ninth-graders have embraced the project.
The students have held supply drives for local refugees. They organized a postcard campaign to send messages to refugee camps overseas, and then they decided to build skateboards.
The ninth and tenth-graders worked with fourth-graders to design the boards. Each board is painted with bright colors and some sort of encouraging word written in Arabic.
The school is working with a group in Jordan to set up a program where Syrian refugee kids there can check out the boards.
"Each skateboard could be something that many, many kids have access to," said Griffin.
The High Tech students are also gathering donated skateboards and helmets to send along with the boards. Any extra equipment will be given to Syrian refugees in San Diego.
“It feels great because we’re kind of making a difference, making a change," said Amir Alamin, a ninth-grader. "You know, we’re helping people who are going through hard times right now."
Ethan Kelley, also a freshman, feels the same.
“I feel amazing, honestly,” he said. “To me, it’s just a good feeling inside. It’s heartwarming.”
Griffin said a lot of times kids can feel like they are always preparing to do something later in life. She said projects like this show them they can do something right now.
“I think one of the hugest things students tell me they’ve learned in this project is that they can do something about things that matter to them,” said Griffin.
Call it a humanities lesson in humanity.