John Tolley, February 27, 2017
These names evoke reverence in the skateboarding world. Not only are they some of the most skilled and innovative riders around, but they have blazed the trail for generation after generation of female skateboarders.
While Indiana University grad Courtney Payne-Taylor might not have the same name recognition as these icons yet, she may soon have a similar impact on skateboarding.
Payne-Taylor, the founder of the Girls Riders Organization, has made it her mission "to Inspire, educate and support girls through action sports to become confident leaders of positive change."
Girls make up only about ten percent of all riders, and often find that skate parks and the skateboarding scene, in general, can be less than welcoming. Through GRO, Payne-Taylor has created a network of mentorship and support for girl riders by establishing "crews" across the country. These local GRO chapters hold workshops that get girls up and going by teaching the basics of skateboarding. Regular events also provide girls with a safe space to practice and enjoy the sport while encouraging one another.
It goes beyond just skateboarding though, says Payne-Taylor, who graduated from the Kelley School of Business in 2006. GRO pushes girls to test their limits in order to fulfill their potential.
"Ultimately, what we're doing while we're teaching them to skateboard is we're teaching them a lot of valuable skills that will apply to their life," says Payne Taylor speaking to IU's Momentum online magazine. "So through skateboarding, we're teaching them to challenge themselves and what they believe they can do."
With GRO crews in many cities and regions across the country, from Bloomington to Los Angeles, Payne-Taylor and her team are looking to expand even further. In addition to GRO skateboarding crews, the organization has branched out into winter action sports with GRO Snow and plan on launching GRO BMX as an outlet for girl cyclists.