Event Sponsors Include the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Heal the Bay, Hurley, the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Surf Bus Foundation, Santa Monica Conservancy, SoFly Surf School, Swim Up Hill Foundation, and Color the Water.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Nick Gabaldón Day 2023 is coming to The Historical Inkwell, Tower 20 of Santa Monica Beach on Saturday, June 3rd, 2023. The beach day will be hosted by the Black Surfer’s Collective & Partners beginning at 9:00 a.m. PST. and lasting until 4:30 p.m. PST. This free event invites youth from inner-city communities across Los Angeles County to reclaim, reaffirm, and establish a new generational sense of belonging and connection to the ocean through surf lessons and marine life education.
It’s estimated that approximately 75% of Los Angeles residents lived within 30 minutes of the coast, including the inner city and surrounding areas. This statistic indicates that a significant portion of the population in Los Angeles should have relatively easy access to the ocean. However, it’s important to note that this percentage is very misleading depending on the specific neighborhoods within inner-city Los Angeles.
Particular Angelenos experience more limited access to the coast due to geographical factors, infrastructure constraints, socioeconomic factors, and for many others an underlying fear of water – which all play a role in determining the level of access that residents have to marine recreational areas, including the ocean.
A Missing Generation of Ocean Enthusiasts
Based on data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the USA Swimming Foundation, it is revealed that a significant 79% of children residing in households with an annual income below $50,000 possess limited or no swimming abilities. A closer examination of Los Angeles County unveils a staggering figure of over 687,056 children, primarily hailing from African-American, Hispanic, and Asian communities. Notably, these neighborhoods feature some of the county’s highest concentrations of residents aged 6 to 18 living below the $50,000 family income threshold.
This year’s Nick Gabaldón Day is the culmination of an initiative by The Black Surfer’s Collective in partnership with Heal the Bay and the Swim Up Hill Foundation that directly provided swim lessons to 100 youth participants from communities across Los Angeles County with a focus on low-income communities of South LA, East LA, and Pasadena. The cornerstone of the beach day event is transporting these youth, with their newly acquired swim skills, to the beachfront for a fun and educational experience aimed at breaking down barriers and uniting our Greater Los Angeles communities through a mutual affinity for oceanic spaces and marine life.
The LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games provided every Swim Up Hill Foundation participant with a bag, water bottle, pair of goggles, swim cap, rash guard shirt, and towel. This donation is part of LA28’s ‘Gift of Sport’ commitment to help eliminate barriers to sports participation and build excitement ahead of the 2028 Games.
Through surf lessons from experienced surf instructors, interactive learning sessions at the Heal the Bay Aquarium in Santa Monica, and hands-on training in ocean conservancy, The Black Surfers Collective & Partners will explore how the southern California coastline can promote social justice and inclusion.
A Legacy of Inclusion
Inspired by a man whose life story has become that of legend, Nick Gabaldón Day is a part of the living legacy of Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951). Nick was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay, exemplifying passion, athleticism, discipline, love, and respect for the ocean.
Despite facing racial discrimination and limited access to beaches during segregation, Gabaldón pursued his passion for surfing with unwavering determination. His tragic death at the age of 24 cut short his remarkable journey. Nevertheless, his legacy as a trailblazer and his contributions to diversifying the sport of surfing endure.
Marie Rachal, Chief Organizer of The Black Surfers Collective believes that, “Nick Gabaldón’s story of perseverance, breaking barriers, passion, representation, and inspiring future generations is a valuable lesson for inner-city youth today.” In her opinion, “Gabaldón’s unwavering determination in pursuing surfing, despite facing discrimination, can teach today’s youth to overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. By embracing his cultural identity and sharing his story, current and future generations are motivated to actively engage in ocean-based activities actively, fostering a sense of belonging, connection, and empowerment with the natural world.”
Meet Us At The Beach
The free event, held at Tower 20 of Santa Monica Beach on June 3rd, will feature in-kind donations, volunteers, and gifts for participants from major event sponsors, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and partners such as Hurley, LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Surf Bus Foundation, Santa Monica Conservancy, SoFly Surf School, Swim Up Hill Foundation, and Color the Water.
Nick Gabaldón Day aims to honor his legacy, promote inclusivity, and inspire inner-city youth through surf lessons, marine life education, and fostering a lasting connection with the ocean. Locals, ocean enthusiasts, city tourists, swim instructors, conservationists, and especially those a little nervous but curious about enjoying our beautiful SoCal coastline are encouraged to attend.
SOURCE The Black Surfers Collective