Good Causes

Women-only skate sessions get Leicester girls onboard

Yusra Alegeli was 26 when she stood on a skateboard for the first time. As the child of conservative Libyan parents, she was unfamiliar with the world of kickflips and airwalks.

But Yusra, now 30, was an instant convert. She said, “Skating is such an escape. I’ve met so many people through skating and it changes your life.”

Now Yusra and her business partner Lily Clawson-Chan, 30, are doing all they can to open up the world of skateboarding to other young people and girls in particular. With the help of funding made possible by National Lottery players, their project Mama Skate has opened its own skate park – Leicester’s Skate Parlour – and started a bi-weekly session for women and girls called Ladies Parlour.

Support from The National Lottery has enabled Yusra and Lily to promote the 3-hour Ladies Parlour sessions and offer them free of charge. Yusra said, “We used to charge £6 for the night and some of the younger girls were saying they couldn’t afford it. Making it free has helped us remove all the barriers to women and girls coming to the park and skating.”

Why is a women-only session so important? Yusra said, “It’s important because some of them feel a bit intimidated skating in a mixed environment. Regardless of whether you’re advanced or a beginner it can be intimidating skating with a bunch of guys who tend to do harder tricks.”

The 10-15 women and girls who attend the Thursday evening sessions once every 2 weeks don’t tend to discuss the merits of the women-only policy – they're too busy enjoying themselves. Yusra said, “We hear parents saying they feel more comfortable bringing their daughters to the session, but the girls themselves just get on with it. It’s a lovely vibe. Some people come to skate, others just come to meet people, have tea or coffee and have a good time.”

Yusra can relate to women and girls who might be hesitant to take the plunge. She said, “Skating wasn’t part of my experience and it certainly wasn’t part of my family’s experience. Sport in general wasn’t as important as education. When I meet muslim girls and girls from ethnic minorities I want them to understand I have a similar background and can explain there are a lot of misconceptions about the sport.”

18th August 2022

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