The "Milk Squad" is a group of nine young men in the eastern American city of Baltimore, Maryland.
For them, skateboarding is more than a sport. It is a way of life.
Almost every day, you can see all nine with their skateboards and bright orange t-shirts in Baltimore’s Carroll Park.
Meet the Milk Squad
The Milk Squad brings together young people of different races and beliefs.
Jamone McKenzie is one of the group's members. His skating friends call him by "Psycho." The name comes from the term meaning someone with mental or emotional problems.
"The reason for that is that I do crazy things that a lot of people wouldn't try," McKenzie says.
"Psycho" became interested in skateboarding when he was a child. He remembers watching skaters on television.
McKenzie started skating when he was nine-years-old. At the time, his mother was afraid he would get hurt or injured. His progress, however, seems to have impressed her. "Now I see she's proud of me," he says.
Eli Hech is another group member. He says he loves the freedom he feels when he is skating.
"I just love skating. I love the feeling of being on my board flowing, floating down the road."
Hech adds that being a member of the Milk Squad gives him a sense of belonging. He and the other members teach and help each other to develop their skills.
Group leader Jamal "Taco" Cottman says many people underestimate themselves. However, when they learn skateboarding, they start to learn that believing in yourself and hard work can pay off.
Cottman adds that Baltimore needs to add more skate parks, places where skateboarders can train. "It will keep more people out of trouble. I know for sure it kept me out of trouble. Definitely."
Skateboarding began in the western state of California in the middle of the 20th century.
Over the years, the sport's popularity has grown around the world.
However, skateboarders still find it difficult to find places to practice their sport.
Stephanie Murdock at a skate park
Stephanie Murdock is the founder of a nonprofit organization that supports local skaters. She helped to raise almost one million dollars to build a new skate park.
One of the difficulties she had was in persuading the community that skating was a valuable sport.
"I did not realize how hard it would be … to help them understand that skateboarders are as valuable as baseball players or as our basketball players," Murdock explains.
She adds that building more skate parks will interest other young people, including girls, in the sport. Murdock herself is a skater, with more than 10 years of experience.
Despite obstacles, the new skate park is expected to open next summer.
As for the Milk Squad’s members, their hard work has paid off. They have received a sponsorship offer. The Bodymore Skateboard Company is providing them with hats, T-shirts, and skate boards – for free!
I’m Phil Dierking.
Faiza Elmasry wrote this story for VOANews.com. John Russell adapted her story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
skateboarding – n. the act of riding a short board on wheels
impress – v. to cause (someone) to feel admiration or interest
practice – v. to do something over and over again; to train
despite – prep. Without being prevented by something
obstacle – n. a barrier; something that make it difficult to do something; an object that you have to go over
sponsorship – n. a person or organization that gives money or pays the cost of an activity or event