Kava Vasquez • Kickflip to fakie • Seattle (WA)   © Raisa Abal


Celebrating and growing women’s skateboarding in The Bronx

‘Even in 2024, many people think that women can’t do X or shouldn’t do Y simply because we’re women.’

Kava Vasquez
Co-Founder of Bronx Girls Skate
Program Manager at Harold
Hunter Foundation

June 2024


Can you tell us something about the Bronx that no one knows?
So, there’s this HUGE building called the Kingsbridge Armory that’s been sitting empty and unused for almost 30 years because no one can decide what to do with it! I’ve always wanted to transform it into a multi-functional community center that includes an indoor skate park, a computer lab, classrooms, and a big kitchen for group meals.

You started the ‘Bronx Girls Skate’ community in 2020. What triggered the idea?
Growing up in The Bronx as an “alternative” kid of color in an immigrant household during the late 90s and early 2000s, I didn’t always see my interests or values reflected around me. This made me feel like I had to leave my home to pursue my passions. Even though I was first exposed to skateboarding in 2007 and to longboarding in 2011, it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Brazil in 2016 that I began to see skateboarding not only as an art form and lifestyle, but also as a vehicle for empowerment.

From June 2017 to August 2018, I explored how women are personally and politically empowered through skateboarding as a Davis Peace Prize project in Mozambique and Thomas J Watson fellow in 10 countries. Inspired by the interconnectedness of the global skateboarding community, I returned to NYC in fall 2018 STOKED and immediately got more involved in the local skate scene. After years of (still) leaving The Bronx – this time to skate with other women and queer folks – in summer 2020, I was like “it’s now or never!”, decided to stop sleeping on my dream of hosting events for women skaters in The Bronx, and contacted Mel Ramirez to invite her to co-found Bronx Girls Skate with me. From there, it’s history!

Bronx Girls Skate • New York City   © Shawn Bruce

How satisfied are you with the progress you made with this community?
I didn’t grow up seeing women or girls like me skateboarding. Now at each Bronx Girls Skate event, I’m surrounded by women and girls of all ages and backgrounds who are united by one thing: their passion for skateboarding. Every event we host, someone learns a new trick, or makes a new friend. It is an honor to create spaces where people and especially women and girls can learn together and celebrate each other no matter where they are on their journey. Overall Bronx Girls Skate has a lot to be proud of. But the work doesn’t end here – 2024 will be our best year yet!

What are some of the challenges?
Whenever you try something new, there will always be people discouraging you from following your dreams. Even in 2023, many people think that women can’t do X or shouldn’t do Y simply because we’re women. The intersectional reality of our experiences as Bronx women – which includes challenges such as poverty and lack of access to healthcare – makes our joy that much more difficult to prioritize. Through our work, we ask “How can we hold space for the joy that skateboarding brings while also leveraging our platform to address important issues that women face?” There’s also the challenge of the world, just seeing us as a marketing trend, as opposed to an enduring force who has the ability to transform not just the skate industry or even women in sports, but how people view women (how we view ourselves) period. I used to let the negativity get to me, but then I realized it’s more empowering to simply focus on spaces and people who value my presence and embrace my offerings with an open heart.

If you have to name the godmother of the girls skate community in the Bronx, who would it be and why?
Honestly, I don’t think there is one! But if I had to choose, I’d probably say the other BXGS co-founder Mel. All the kids love her, and I think a lot of people associate women’s skateboarding in The Bronx with her image.

‘It is an honor to create spaces where people and especially women and girls can learn together and celebrate each other’

Kava Vasquez • Boneless • New York City   © Erin Patrice O’Brien

What is your involvement with the Harold Hunter Foundation?
I’ve been involved with the Harold Hunter Foundation since 2019 in a few different roles. Currently, I am the Director of Future Pathways, which means that my focus is on helping skateboarders build brighter futures through education, mentorship, and career-building opportunities in skateboarding, technology, and the arts.

What are some of the ways where you are able to help skateboarders build a brighter future?
Due to their singular focus on skateboarding, many skaters struggle with challenges such as housing instability and socioeconomic inequality. I strive to improve outcomes for skaters by facilitating educational and cultural experiences where people can hone their skills, build community, and shape their own destinies. Some examples include hosting beginner skate sessions, teaching people about financial literacy, and organizing events like skate jams and career panels. I see myself as a conduit. In many ways, I’m also a mirror, or portal. My hope is that through my work, I can inspire people to believe in themselves enough to take ownership over their destiny.

What is on your wish list?
A magic button that stops war and establishes peace, love, and abundance for all of humanity forever.

Last question. If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
This is such a hard question! First names that come to mind are Tupac Shakur, Rumi, and Bjork. Tupac was a gifted poet, as was Rumi. I love Bjork’s music and would love to learn more about how her inner workings, but she is such an anomaly that I’m not sure I’d understand our interview anyway.