Amber Clyde

Amber Clyde’s nana was always her biggest supporter. Amber started skateboarding as a young girl and her nana encouraged her despite the flak she copped from local boys. But when Amber’s nana passed away from breast cancer when she was 16, she lost the motivation to carry on with the sport she loved. But fast forward nearly 10 years, Amber has rediscovered her passion for skateboarding and has set up GirlsSkateNZ in honour of her nana. She’s held a Pink Ribbon Breakfast for the past couple of years. Her advice for first-timers? “Just do it!”

I started skateboarding when I was 10 years old. As a girl, it was an intimidating sport to get into – I would rock up to the skate park and it would be full of boys, often not another girl in sight. Not to mention the fact that the boys were always super mean to me.

I didn’t want to do it anymore, but my nana was always supportive of me. I would skate in her driveway but even that wasn’t safe from the jibes and taunts from boys, who would call out when they would see me.

That was until my nana came out and told them off! They never came near me or said anything to me again after that.

But when I was 16, my nana passed away from breast cancer and I lost all motivation to skate as I tried to deal with my grief.

After having my daughter at 19, I realised I wanted to have something that was for me. I got back on my skateboard and I fell in love all over again.

Back at the skate parks, they were still dominated by boys but I made friends with three other younger girls. We would meet up and I would show them a few tricks – it became a weekly thing!

From here, my skateboarding school, GirlsSkateNZ was born, starting with regular Sunday classes with 10 girls. Now, more than four years later, I run eight classes a week, which can have over 30 girls attending, as well as school holiday programmes that receive some funding from the Auckland Council.

It’s all in honour of my nana and to show that girls can do anything. I had a logo made to symbolise breast cancer. Looking out I can see the girls with the logo on their helmets, and that makes me think that my nana is everywhere.

I was quite nervous when I first started thinking about hosting a Pink Ribbon Breakfast. I was unsure, questioning whether I was too young, or whether or not I was the right person for the job.

But I did it anyway, and loved every minute of it! Once I got started, I just had the best time. My advice to anyone hosting for the first time is to “Just do it!”

My Pink Ribbon Breakfasts were held at the skate park, and with lots of pink bakery treats – it doesn’t have to be big and bougie so long as the message is there. Your contribution is important no matter what it looks like.

The young girls love it too – they love dressing up in pink and learning about such an important cause, and I love having the opportunity to raise awareness.