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Creating a culture of peer learning through youth interest

City Lore is dedicated to documenting, presenting and advocating for the city’s grassroots cultures to ensure their living legacy in stories and histories, places and traditions. For KickFlip, City Lore invited teen skateboarders to share their unique perspective on their place in the world providing them with the technical and analytic skills to reflect on role and place in the fabric of New York City.

As a group, teen skateboarders are often an underserved and misunderstood population who do not consider themselves to be college-bound prospects. However, their shared passion for their craft often draws them together in spaces around the city to socialize, experiment and perfect their skills. The idea of “hanging out, messing around, and geeking out” the guiding principles that often mark how youth engage and learn with digital media are deeply familiar to the culture of skateboarding.

Year One

During the summer pilot program, eighteen teen skateboarders learned filmmaking through a peer-to-peer mentoring program format. An additional eighteen teen filmmakers who had completed partner organization, Reel Works’ teen filmmaking programs served as peer instructors and production partners to the teen skateboarders. During the course of twelve sessions, each skateboarder-filmmaker pair participated in filmmaking workshops and in-depth adult mentoring and critique sessions.

They learned to:

  • Share their personal experiences and knowledge through the medium of film;
  • Conduct compelling interviews;
  • Use video and audio equipment to shoot, edit and incorporate sound into their films;
  • Create online discussions;
  • Distribute their videos through online social media networks.

By the end of the pilot program, the youth made films on a wide range of topics relevant to the New York City skater community, including the role of gender in skateboarding, the nature of belonging in the skate community, the features of a skate park, and a day in the life of teen skaters.

The films were screened at a skate video festival organized by the Harold Hunter Foundation on October 18, 2012 at the newly built Nike Coleman Skatepark. They are also available on the Kickflip Youtube channel.

Year Two

With approximately ten teens returning for its second year, the youth participants expressed interest in game design and coding. Collaborating with Parsons New School for Design, City Lore designed KickFlip 2.0, a six-week intensive program where participants learned the principles and techniques of game design and coding within the context of a college campus. Using Arduino, the open source micro-controller and software designed to simplify the use of electronics in projects, the teens worked together to build games and design interactions based on the experience of skateboarding. Programming the Arduinos and wiring them to the bottom of their skateboards, developed “skateboard games,” through the iterative design process, continuing to tweak the rules, code and game play.

The games designed by KickFilp 2.0 youth were launched at Harold Hunter Day on October 12, 2013.

This project was funded by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust in 2011 and 2012.

Lead Organization:
City Lore

Partner Organizations:
Reel Works Teen Filmmaking ,

Project Goal:
Connect teen skateboarders with learning opportunities that could lead to career and college trajectories

Project Tags:
Advocacy & Social Justice, Arts, Media Literacy & Production, Youth Development & Leadership

Project Portfolio

  • teaching resources

    Plan of Action

    A brief overview of workshops and activities of the KickFlip program.

  • teaching resources

    Source Material and Code

    Source material and code for KickFlip 2.0 workshops.

  • documentation

    KickFlip Blog

    Youth participants blog about filmmaking and the KickFlip program.

  • documentation

    KickFlip 2.0 Blog

    Youth participants blog game design and KickFlip 2.0

  • sample works

    KickFlip Films

    Videos by the teen skateboarding filmmakers