SUPERIOR, Wis. — A local artist is sharing her passion for roller skating with the community.
Abby Jean Goodell, co-owner of Ink Tattoo in Superior, purchased 160 pairs of skates from the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park, Minn., after it shut down permanently last spring. Her goal is to get them on the feet of folks in the Twin Ports area, particularly young people involved in Mentor North, through the All Skate No Hate initiative.
"Some families and mentors have pre-signed up for skates so they get first dibs on the sizes they need. But there will be many sets in various sizes left over to give out to the community," Goodell said.
Goodell was involved with roller derby from 2007-2019, as a member of the Harbor City Roller Derby, North Star Roller Derby in Minneapolis and Minnesota Roller Derby in St. Paul.
“Through roller skating I found lifelong friends, a supportive and inclusive community, countless ways to be creative, and immense joy that I want to pass on,” she said.
The Superior woman has been a mentor to 11-year-old Aaliyah for the past year. The pair share time together skating, making crafts, building playlists and just hanging out.
“What’s really cool about Mentor North is they try to match you with a youngster that has the same hobbies and things they want to do and stuff,” Goodell said.
Her mentee has even introduced her to new things like TikTok.
“It’s been really cool. Aaliyah is so much cooler than I’ll ever be. And her family is really awesome and it’s been super cool being able to be a part of someone’s life,” Goodell said.
Goodell hopes her All Skate No Hate initiative can help. The group gathers and fixes up roller skates to give away to the community. The shuttering of the St. Louis Park rink jump-started the program.
“Though Roller Garden closing was a sad event, I saw an opportunity to put some good into the world,” Goodell said. “I hope to make roller skating accessible to folks who might not be able to afford the often hefty fees of acquiring skates.”
She reached out for funding, and the community responded with enough money to get the initiative rolling. Goodell purchased 160 pairs of skates at auction, crammed them in the back of her vehicle and brought them to the Twin Ports. Some pairs were decorated by local artists and auctioned off to raise money for additional used skates in popular sizes. A GoFundMe fundraiser for the initiative has also been set up.
The tattoo artist planned to begin giving away free skates at the annual Mentor North Barbecue earlier this month, but it was canceled due to the weather and the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the area.
Becka Tuinei-Williams, program advocate for Mentor Superior, called the All Skate No Hate initiative amazing, creative and a great way to connect young people.
“What more to get kids together either outside of the rink or out even within their own neighborhood, you know, on the sidewalk seeing kids out there more,” Tuinei-Williams said. “I think a lot of times we’ve, due to COVID, we’ve kind of accepted indoors as the only way we could go right now, and I love her idea that it brought kids to go back outside.”
Tuinei-Williams said the community has been very supportive of Mentor Superior, which was launched in 2012. The matched pairs are invited to events and receive an activity pass that offers discounts or free visits to area attractions.
“The mentors say that it’s a really meaningful volunteer experience,” Tuinei-Williams said, one that has taught them new things and helped them grow. “Not only does that have an impact on this youth and that family, but then that spreads out into the large community. The more supported our youth are, the better off the whole community is."
Visit the Mentor North website, mentornorth.org, or Mentor Superior Facebook page to learn more about the program and the local young people seeking a friend.