TORRANCE, California — When one sees professional skateboarder Mike Carroll land a massive nollie tre flip at the famous indoor skate park known only as The Berrics, fighting HIV and AIDS is not what comes to mind. It might be hard to imagine philanthropic causes factoring into a prolific skate career lasting over 20 years.
The same goes for his compatriot, Kenny Anderson, who has had an equally long and successful career within the skate community.
But causes of global importance are exactly what these two shredders concern themselves with; they have partnered with the globally recognized RED campaign to fight AIDS through their respective skateboard sponsors, GIRL and Chocolate skateboards.
RED partners with large and influential companies to bring AIDS treatment to those already infected and preventative measures to those who are at risk of being exposed to HIV.
One of the central aspects of GIRL and Chocolate’s goal is to help reduce the number of children born with AIDS.
Currently, up to 700 children are born with AIDS every single day. The number of infected children has reduced dramatically over the years thanks to better access to antiretroviral therapy; the goal is to have the number of pediatric HIV cases to reach near zero by 2015.
The tragedy of pediatric HIV is that it’s completely preventable. Infected women simply need access to antiretroviral therapy during their pregnancies and during breastfeeding to block transmission to the infant.
Luckily, awareness of the problem and a hefty amount of donations has reduced the occurrence of pediatric HIV as well as the AIDS worldwide. There are approximately 35 million people infected with HIV around the globe and that number is dropping every day.
By the end of 2012, 9.7 million people had access to drugs meant to treat HIV; a 20% increase from 2011. And since 2001, there has been a 52% drop in infections among children.
The progress in AIDS prevention has been so phenomenal, the United Nations had to expand on its initial goal of treating 15 million people by 2015. Movements such as RED have provided a significant amount of donations to help realize these astronomical gains.
Interestingly, the RED campaign channeled through GIRL and Chocolate signifies a growing trend of socially conscious companies within the skate community who focus on providing quality products for skaters around the world while at the same time tackling significant global issues.
One of the preferred issues to tackle is that of sustainability and providing greener products manufactured with less energy input.
For example, Satori Wheels is a company that prides itself on bringing recycled and sustainable products to skaters. It manufactures new wheels from used ones rather than using polyurethane which is energy intensive and difficult to recycle. It also creates many clothing products made from sustainable materials such as hemp, organic cotton and bamboo.
An Atlanta based company, Deck Specks, creates sunglasses from the wood of used skateboard decks instead of the typical plastic many companies prefer to use.
The skateboard community is vibrant across the United States and around the world and is attempting to effect positive change by incorporating something they love to do: skate.
So the next time you see your local skater do a Kickflip to Backside Crook down a hand rail, just be aware they may be doing their part to save the world.