How would you describe your outreach work & what do you hope to accomplish?
Maya Henry Shred Your Fears is a skateboarding workshop for womxn to help them feel strong and comfortable in their bodies. I want to give womxn a safe and comfortable space to explore fear and challenge themselves through skateboarding.
Why is this work important?
MH Skateparks and more generally skateboarding have historically been centered around white CIS men. That’s changing, and I hope Shred Your Fears can play some tiny role in that.
Can you talk about the evolution of your work?
MH Shred Your Fears started as an event for my health and wellness business but really has evolved into its own entity. I see the ripple effects far beyond what I set out to do.
After the first event, I said, let’s just see if we can teach 100 womxn to skateboard over the next year. And we’re at 86 in just 9 months. And we’ve launched events in the San Francisco Bay Area and held our first international event in Toronto earlier this summer.
The womxn who attend our events teach their daughters, sons, and friends to skate. They support the skateparks we support. We support small business through the event.
At our event coming up this weekend, we will be assembling toiletry kits for women in transit at the border and writing cards to them. We’ll also be donating a portion of the proceeds to a border charity. I just keep seeing ways this work can help in a bigger way and saying yes to that.
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Thank you to all the womxn who showed up today to #shredtheirfears. . Thank you to @worthmanifesto for allowing us to support their efforts to bring toiletries and notes of hope to women at the border. . Thanks to @bettycruz for anchoring the day and reminding us of the power of vulnerability and how we can all support each other. . Thank you to @kimeckel for helping everyone connect and ground to prepare for skating. You’ve been with us from the beginning and we couldn’t have done it without you. . Thanks to @switchandsignalskatepark for continuing to foster a safe and inclusive space for all. . And a HUGE thanks to our instructors for this event @faceplant2fakie @ambergedman and @__sarahpack__! . Check out our stories for some of the amazingness that went down today. . We'll be donating a portion of the proceeds to Annunciation House in El Paso. Please consider donating as well!
What is your background in feminism and/or social justice?
MH I was a clinic escort for 4 years at Planned Parenthood in Hudson, NY and Pittsburgh, PA and have been involved in pro-choice activism since high school.
I interned as a researcher on This Far by Faith a documentary series about the African-American religious experience by the makers of the Civil Rights Series Eyes on the Prize. I was able to transform a portion of the research I did into the life of Sojourner Truth to write my undergraduate thesis: “Sojourner Truth Through the Currents of American History.” This was probably the first time I was exposed to intersectional feminism.
After that experience, I applied to be a primary researcher on a project called Civil Rights Successes and the Politics of Racial Violence where we were investigating and understanding the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission and other entities that were set up to advance racist agendas under the guise of state sovereignty. Later when I was working in community development, it gave me an important lens to understand the history of the different agencies and community groups I worked with.
What is your philosophy for doing activism?
MH I definitely burnt-out on clinic escorting. There’s going to be an ebb and flow, but you can’t become complacent; you have to have some form of personal analysis for looking at whether you are in recovery or whether you are avoiding doing the work.
I like what Layla Saad says, that information leads to interrogation which leads to transformation leads to integration and that is a cycle that continues to repeat itself.
Is collaboration something you incorporate into your practice? Why or why not?
MH It’s essential. Not just from a capacity standpoint, but I don’t believe it’s possible to create something like this without asking for and inviting input from as many voices as possible and inviting collaborators. A recent example was working in Toronto, where I knew I had a limited reach and that would likely result in the event not being very diverse. That wasn’t acceptable to me within the mission of this work, so I found an organization and was able to collaborate with them so that we had three visibly Muslim women who came to learn to skate. I am always striving to add these collaborations because i understand my own limitations.
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Celebrating another amazing womxn from the May #shredyourfears cohort! /// Khalood Al Ali saw me speak at @thewildroseco Rising Women Conference and was so excited to come to Shred Your Fears. /// Khalood showed up with her penny board, and said she had "a little bit" of experience but really she showed us all how it is DONE, zooming around the skatepark fearlessly! /// Khalood is a Biomedical Engineering Master student at CMU and has decided to travel to Rwanda with Engineering World Health this summer to assist 10 hospitals with critical medical device repairs and other services. /// Khalood is fundraising for her trip and her #gofundme page is linked in our profile! Please show her some #shredyourfears love. #donate #fundraising #socialgood #goodcause #giveback #shredyourfears #thankyouskateboarding #skatelife #skatelikeagirl #412 #carnegiemellon #cmu #skateboardingisfun #pghevents #engineeringworldhealth #skatepark
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Maya Henry is a writer, educator, and women's health advocate who helps people make better decisions to impact their lives and the planet. Whether working as a birth doula, teaching cooking or holding her popular skateboarding workshops, she loves helping women build more confidence in their bodies and overcome the fears holding them back from living happier, more fulfilling lives. Maya is a certified health coach, Culinary Nutrition Expert, and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. Maya has been featured in Runner's World, Women's Health, Bustle, Healthline, and Oprah Magazine Insiders, as well as on CBS Pittsburgh. You can sign up to receive her free 7-day vegan meal plan to impact your health and the health of the planet by clicking here.