THE OASIS SKATEBOARD FACTORY

In November, Academy Of Lions partnered with Movember to help raise funds & awareness for men's physical & mental health issues. Through that partnership we were fortunate to meet another Movember partner Craig Morrison, the founding teacher of Oasis Skateboard Factory, an innovative and incredibly successful alternative school within the Toronto School Board. 

Craig and his students, raised money for Movember by auctioning off one-of-a-kind Skateboards they had helped create. The Auction was held at Academy, and the mutual sparks began to fly. 

Craig is incredibly passionate and believes in the value of Public Education. In the process of talking to him and learning more about the youth he teaches and the programs he creates, it became immediately clear this was Academy's kind of school!!! 

Things quickly came together, as they now do in this new world.

As of February 2016, Academy programmed a new kind of "Phys Ed", we call "Physical Culture & Mindful Living". For last several months we engaged students around body, mind & spirit in a typical Academy fashion (pun intended).

This program  earns the students actual credits and and in the process connects them to our Academy member community of alternative thinkers, creatives & athletes. This program is modelled on other successful programs Academy has created like 4RUN6, Roots Village Project, Lift Toronto and This Shirt Built A School. We use a Three Factor Process combining Athletics, Art & Action. 

In these sessions, the students begin by working-out/moving/playing together, helping them to bond over the new experience. This is  followed by some mindfulness practice and skill development that will be useful to them in their personal & creative pursuits. We also cover topics like Nutrition, Self-Defence, Harm Reduction, Stress Management, Communication and Lifestyle Design. 

In each session, we workshop concepts for T-Shirt design that is based on the identity & experiences shared during this program.  The shirt will be produced and launched during the program graduation party June 9th at the Academy. Proceeds from the sale of this design will further go to support Oasis Skateboard Factory's ongoing programming & initiatives. 

In the process of talking to Craig, I learned that his program, which is a shining example of the possibilities of education in this new digital information & creative age, is badly underfunded. This school, operates like a business, in so far as they MUST create goods & services that accomplish economic outcomes. In my opinion, this is the BEST form of education for a fast evolving world - hustle is a muscle! 

But, this program doesn't need FISH, it needs FISHING RODS - or in other words - the tools to help the students learn, create, sell & grow. Tools like screen printing equipment for Skateboards, T-shirts, Buttons and other goods. They also could use some more "relevant" digital equipment like computers, cameras & platforms that help them produce more quality work and learn the value of it. 

I encourage folks to check out their website (http://oasisskateboardfactory.blogspot.ca/) and the Globe & Mail piece about them (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/oasis-skateboard-factory-gives-struggling-teens-a-chance-to-show-their-skills/article15810072/)

If anyone in the community has questions, please email me directly (dhani@academyoflions.com)

- Dhani.