It’s Summer! (and there’s a new short documentary out!)

Let’s welcome the summer by watching a short documentary about a group of volunteers who teach children how to skateboard and body board! I promise it to be fun, light and with great music!

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Alex Melendez, director of Puerto Rico Surf & Skate Club with his son Edward (L) and two students at a recent body boarding clinic in Manatí, Puerto Rico

The group, Puerto Rico Surf and Skate Club, is a young non-for-profit organization that came about after needing to find new athletes in the sports of skateboarding and body boarding. I met their director Alex Melendez, when I was filming Forever Boogies. I was impressed by his down to earth persona and the dedication to the children he’d been teaching.

When I met him, he’d just started his organization, but his dedication for the sport, for the children was as if he’d been working with the club for decades – and while the sports are deemed to be “extreme” this man was using these extreme sports as a way to help children diagnosed with autism, down syndrome, ADD, ADHD and more. But, how can children who have these types of diagnosis even focus on something like skateboarding and body boarding? Easy, it’s something that is physical and requires focus and ease of mind. I’ve witnessed children who are on the verge of having an anxiety attack immediately calm down once they get on a boogie board and start paddling out, their faces lighting up with indescribable happiness when they’re riding a wave.

I won’t go on and on about it, I invite you to click on the link and see it for yourself: https://youtu.be/DbnSvayGSN4

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At the corner of happy and positive influence

Today, as part of my monthly crave-satisfying run I went to Walgreens to get me some chocolate (Lindt Dark Chocolate w/Coconut ) and some kettle popped corn.  As I usually do, I walked in, took a shopping cart and proceeded to walk through the isles – because that’s what I do when I have time to waste. I grabbed some dog food, and proceed to go to the snack isle and get me the pop corn, chocolate and added Tazo English breakfast tea.

Walking towards the register, I noticed my favorite cashier was working today. A young girl with auburn hair, a raspy voice and a lively smile that sort of reminds me of Punky Brewster (since I don’t know her name I’ll call her that from here on) – she always greets me with big smile. Today she was more enthusiastic than usual to see me, I guess it’s because I haven’t been there in a while. As she scans my items she already knows not to use plastic bags. I always refuse to use them because they’re non-recyclable items here and I don’t want any of the bags I toss out to end up in the ocean and subsequently in a sea turtles tummy when the poor thing confuses it for a jelly fish and starts chomping.

Punky, starts putting my items in my cloth tote bag and stops to see my tea, she enthusiastically tells me that she loves that tea and if it can be made iced, I tell her yes and proceed to give her instructions on how to make an ice black tea and she nods and grins wider. Then, she tells me that she “started using cloth bags like you [me]” and I smile. I congratulate her on the progress of thinking about the environment, the convenience and suggest she keeps a few of these tote bags in her car, just in case she needs to run an errand last minute – just so she never has to use a plastic bag.

I always keep a tote bag with me
I always keep a tote bag with me and sometimes, I even match it

After paying and exiting the store I realized what I had done the last six months: I had positively influenced a person to make smarter choices for the environment just by making smarter choices myself. I felt good. I was also reminded that people often forget how their actions influence others, be it positively or even negatively. I was glad I was in the former group of influence.

Although the Puerto Rican Senate recently approved a law that will prohibit the use and distribution of plastic bags throughout the island – after the agency of waste management along with a group of private citizens requested the ban, I have been taking my tote bags everywhere and promoting their use. All in the hopes to minimize waste; promote recycling and maintain the health of sea creatures that are primarily affected by this specific type of trash.

Many local people are confused as to how they are going to deal with the new law. Wondering how they’re going to carry their groceries, since they’re so accustomed to using the plastic bags. As I walk buy with my bag of totes, I hope to continue to be the positive influence that I already have been for Punky. Who so happily let me know that she’s doing what she’s seen be do for months – and that she feels good about it.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this post is that: while you think that you’re only doing things that will affect you personally, it will undoubtedly influence others – you have the choice of what kind of influence you want to be in the world. All I know is that I’m really happy with being a positive one….I also have to ask Punky’s name…dang

If you like to know about the good things some local surfers are doing for the community, watch my docu-short Forever Boogies, if fitness is more your thing, watch this awesome clip featuring Olympic Trainer Francisco “Capu” Ocasio and Bodyboarding champs Galdo Gomez and Fran Castro.