Face your fears at your own pace: a psychologist’s perspective.

Face your fears at your own pace: a psychologist’s perspective.

Face your fears at your own pace: a psychologist’s perspective.

Words by Leyla Garboza León
Photography by Gregoire Delevacque

Born and raised in Trujillo, Peru, Leyla loves sports and motorcycles. She was welcomed into the Concrete Jungle Foundation (CJF) fold in 2018 as a project leader and says,

“From the moment they offered me the job, I felt CJF were encouraging and open to diversity. In Peru, it is difficult to get a job because of how you look or what you represent.”

She spent 9 months with the foundation. With a degree in psychology, as well as a talent for skateboarding, we wanted to know:

How has skateboarding helped her overcome her own mental hurdles? And what did she observe during her time with CJF?

For her skateboarding began, ironically, with Spiderman.

“I started watching my cousin jump barrels with his friends, the first time I saw them I was completely perplexed. I asked myself – how do they make the skateboard stick to their feet? I asked my mom for a skateboard, but she didn't buy it for me. Christmas came and my cousin gave me a Spiderman skateboard.”

Leila at the Alto Trujillo Skatepark in Peru

Leyla in Alto Trujillo, 2018

She’s been skateboarding since but it’s about more than barrels now.

“It’s helped me in many aspects; to be more organised with my schedule, to be responsible with university, to persevere with the things I want, to be patient with the learning and relearning process. Also, to listen to my body when I have to stop.”

How has she seen skateboarding and CJF help children in her Peruvian communities?

“As a psychologist I’ve been able to observe children using skateboarding as a form of escape/distraction from many of the responsibilities they are carrying. I could identify that many children belonged to dysfunctional families and the environment in general in which they live/lived is not the most appropriate for their age. Through CJF and their Edu-Skate programme, they’ve learned to cope with things more and have different options compared to what they were used to.”

Has she witnessed Edu-Skate as being important when it comes to building confidence and skills?

“I think it's important, since society in general has not seen skateboarding in a different way than the one they are used to: practice-compete-leisure. The Edu-Skate vision is not just to learn tricks and grow as a skater, it's to learn that every lesson will help you in some aspect of life, as you grow as a person and (if you want) as an athlete.”

She tells us that CJF encourages teachers to intervene if it looks like children are being pressured, by other children, into doing tricks they aren’t comfortable doing. It’s a case of respecting that everyone does things in their own time.

“In the teaching aspect, I’ve seen different situations where some children did not feel comfortable practicing a trick and some classmates called them names like ‘coward’ or ‘fearful’. In those cases we intervened and explained that each person has a learning process. That everyone has a way to face their fears at their own pace and that this should be respected, that they should help and encourage those who don’t want to perform. The Edu-Skate classes and vision are about this – to respect companionship and encouragement above all.”

Leila helping a girl skateboarding in Alto Trujillo, Peru

Leyla in Alto Trujillo, 2018

Is there anything she wants the world to know about skateboarding?

“If you have the opportunity to buy a skateboard or even the slightest desire to learn, no matter your age or sex or anything else. Just do it no matter what others may think, it’s a very powerful tool that will make you grow as a person, learn about new cultures and above all share and have respect for the tastes and opinions of others. And if you made it this far, thank you very much for your time. ”

Help us do more!

Concrete Jungle Foundation is a non-profit organisation that builds skateparks and runs youth programmes for communities around the world.

If you’d like to follow what’s going on in Peru, check out the cjf_peru on Instagram or on LinkedIn here

If you have the means to support our work, please consider joining our monthly donor programme today.

You can also get merchandise from our online shop. All profits go to maintaining the charity’s operations over the world.

Thank you for helping us share the joy of skateboarding and supporting local communities!

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