(Omar Rashad / L.A. Times HS Insider)
West Torrance High School

STOKED teaches life lessons through surfing program

More than 30 miles away from their homes in downtown Los Angeles, a dozen high schools students begin stretching on surfboards at 10 a.m. in north Zuma Beach in Mailbu, Calif. As part of their weekly summer mentorship program, STOKED focuses on bringing opportunity to inner-city kids.

STOKED looks to impact students by immersing them in action sports, and teaching them life lessons while having fun. Their Los Angeles location is one of three in the U.S., as the organization leads a nationwide effort to address opportunity gap while making enjoyable experiences more tangible for young kids.

“All the programs are centered around action sports,” said Katie Ferraro, operations coordinator for STOKED L.A. “The biggest thing that we want to teach kids is life skills and giving them opportunities that they wouldn’t normally get.”

With a myriad of events and ways to get involved, besides beach cleanups and action sports lessons, STOKED organizes after-school programs, one-on-one mentoring, and college and career advice for students.

“Ever since I joined, I’ve been having so much fun and making so [many] memories,” student Marcus Lopez said. “It even improved my leadership and teamwork skills and it made me an even more expressive person than I originally was.”

Visit their website at STOKED.org to learn more about STOKED and its upcoming events.