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Meet Movement Maker Sarah Turner: Empowering Young People through Skateboarding

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Meet Movement Maker Sarah Turner: Empowering Young People through Skateboarding

September 20, 2018

At VF, we power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. This is our Purpose and it is powered by our Movement Makers—associates who are committed to making a positive impact in their communities and around the world. In this series, we’ll feature these associates and highlight how they’re doing their part to make the world a better place.


Senior Manager, Art Studio, Vans®
Costa Mesa, California
3 years with VF

A little bit about me
I grew up in Southern California, drawing, painting and trying to skate in my driveway with my little sister. I thought I wanted to go to medical school—until I realized I couldn’t handle the sight of blood. After going to California State University Fullerton to study art and design, I went into commercial art. I’ve done that for the past 13 years, including the past three years with Vans.

A typical day for me
I have the honor of managing and developing a team of talented artists, which occupies about half my time. The other half, I’m working on the design and production of artwork for Vans’ retail stores, events such as skate and surf competitions, House of Vans events and packaging for special collaborations. It’s always interesting to produce artwork that sets the right tone. On occasion, I still get to draw, paint and try to skate in the skate park at our headquarters.

What drives me to be a Movement Maker
Giving back to my local community has always been really important to me. My mom was a police officer in the homicide unit when I was growing up, and every December, she’d collect gifts for local kids. Helping my mom collect and distribute gifts, plus food and other holiday items, from the back of her cop car was a highlight of my childhood. Later, I was a teacher in an afterschool program in low-income communities in Los Angeles. After working in commercial art for a few years, I was really missing helping underprivileged kids, and decided along with my friend to start a California chapter of Boards for Bros, a nonprofit organization that provides free skateboarding equipment, safe skate spots and youth mentoring for low-income kids. I really wanted to help kids and inspire kindness and generosity in my community. Through Boards for Bros I’m able to do that.

Movements I power
I power two of VF’s Movement Territories—Outside Matters and Free to Be. Through Boards for Bros, we’re giving kids the ability to enjoy the outdoors, while enabling them to create and express who they are in a caring, nurturing environment. Giving a kid a skateboard isn’t just about play. It gives them a creative and fun outlet to develop physical skills, interact with others, and learn problem-solving skills and perseverance. You don’t need a uniform or additional equipment to skate; you can do it anywhere. It’s an accessible activity and it can be a mode of transportation. That’s an empowering, freeing feeling for kids.

What I’d like to see as an outcome of my work
I want to inspire people to come together and do nice things for others. Whether it’s the adults who are volunteering or the kids who receive the skateboards, my hope is that people will pay it forward and do something kind for somebody else. I also hope to give kids a creative outlet that enables them to discover their own resilience and perseverance.

How VF helps me power my Movement
When I first started this project, it was a small drive just within my department at Vans to collect skateboard decks. I got so much interest and support that within one week, I opened it up to all Vans associates, and collected 1,000 decks to donate to kids. We had so many boards that I had to rent a warehouse to store them! Our VF and Vans family have rallied together to collect, build and distribute over 600 skateboards to underprivileged youth in the last year. In addition, we have sponsored clinics to teach kids how to skate. The donations from my colleagues continue to show up weekly. I’m so thankful that Vans and VF saw the value in supporting this program and giving back. It’s making a big difference in the lives of the kids in the program.

Best advice I’ve ever received
When I was starting out with this initiative, I was nervous about asking others for help. My mentor told me that helping another human being is at the core of every one of us. She urged me to be authentic and share my love and passion for helping kids. I’m thankful for that advice, because the response has been amazing, and we’ve been able to accomplish big things!

Learn more about VF's Movement Makers and the impact these associates are making on communities around the world.