PHOTOS: Ja'Ovvoni Garrison is Trying to Give Cleveland Kids 100 Free Skateboards

At 18-years-old, Ja'Ovvoni Garrison started Skaters Next Door, a community program that typically runs six to eight weeks during the fall at Stella Walsh Recreation Center, to share his passion for skating with kids in the community. During the program, he teaches skating basics and gives away free boards to kids who need them. Since 2008, Garrison, 25, has raised more than $40,000 through grant writing and working with organizations such as Neighborhood Connection and Slavic Village Development. He is currently running an online gofundme campaign to raise $4,500 to give away 100 free skateboards to kids in the area. Garrison sat down to talk with Scene about Skaters Next Door and the budding Cleveland skating culture.

by Jacob Gedetsis

Photos by Caitlin Summers

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Growing up, Garrison lived all over the South with different family members. There he was exposed to the South’s close-knit skating culture, something he would later try to replicate in Cleveland.
Growing up, Garrison lived all over the South with different family members. There he was exposed to the South’s close-knit skating culture, something he would later try to replicate in Cleveland.
When he was 18, Garrison promised himself that he would work as hard as he could for 10 years to positively change the Cleveland skating culture.
When he was 18, Garrison promised himself that he would work as hard as he could for 10 years to positively change the Cleveland skating culture.
He said Skaters Next Door gives kids' in the neighborhood an opportunity to find their identity, something he struggled with growing up.
He said Skaters Next Door gives kids' in the neighborhood an opportunity to find their identity, something he struggled with growing up.
He said the persistence of falling down and getting back up can be applied to their future jobs, relationships and hardships.
He said the persistence of falling down and getting back up can be applied to their future jobs, relationships and hardships.
One of the things Garrison learned teaching kids how to skate over the years, is that the real learning falls on the individual.
One of the things Garrison learned teaching kids how to skate over the years, is that the real learning falls on the individual.
He tries to be there and facilitate the young skaters' desire to skate, but he said it is exponentially more powerful when the young skater feels like they developed their passion for the sport organically.
He tries to be there and facilitate the young skaters' desire to skate, but he said it is exponentially more powerful when the young skater feels like they developed their passion for the sport organically.
Garrison wants to foster a community that he would have enjoyed growing up.
Garrison wants to foster a community that he would have enjoyed growing up.
Oftentimes Garrison sees kids walk away from a hard fall upset, but he said they almost always come back with a drive to get better.
Oftentimes Garrison sees kids walk away from a hard fall upset, but he said they almost always come back with a drive to get better.
When the weather turns, Garrison moves the program into the racquet ball courts at Stella Walsh Recreation Center.
When the weather turns, Garrison moves the program into the racquet ball courts at Stella Walsh Recreation Center.
Garrison said when he finally lands a trick he's been working on for weeks, it feels like someone transferred a million dollars into his bank account.
Garrison said when he finally lands a trick he's been working on for weeks, it feels like someone transferred a million dollars into his bank account.