Youth 'catch air' at Shred-N-Butter

by Ivan Huang

A year-round skateboarding program that is run through the city's Recreation and Park Department called Shred-N-Butter holds classes for kids ages 3 - 17.

The program is offered at six locations in San Francisco, including the Richmond Recreation Center, located on 18th Avenue between California and Clement streets, and the Sunset Recreation Center, located at 28th Avenue and Lawton Street.

The program is currently in its winter cycle, part of four cycles that are offered in the program.

The Richmond Recreation Center currently holds its winter classes on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Shred-N-Butter also will begin offering classes at the newly-renovated Sunset Recreation Center on Tuesdays from March 19 through May 21, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., as part of its spring program cycle.

The costs for San Francisco's year-round program are $80 for a session of 6 to 7 classes, while drop-ins at the Richmond Recreation Center will cost $10 per class.

The program is designed with a purpose - to teach beginning skateboarders how to develop the confidence to skate, while providing a safe and fun place for intermediate to advanced skaters to skate.

The Shred-N-Butter staff teaches kids whatever tricks they want to learn in terms of skating techniques.

"The tricks most kids want to learn are the Ollie, Kickflip, Shuv-it, Drop-in and 180's," said Daynin Gordon, founder of the Shred-N-Butter program.

The program started when Gordon, who was then working for the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) as an entry level employee, wanted more responsibility.

Upon recognizing skateboarding as a niche, Gordon recommended to Linda Barnard, who was then supervisor of Sports and Athletics, to create a skateboarding program.

As it turned out, the department, as a result of its new programing model, had just submitted a skateboarding program to be held on Saturdays at the Richmond Recreation Center.

After finding out that the position to run the program was vacant, Gordon asked for the position.

"After explaining to her how the department would not find anyone more qualified, knowledgeable and proactive to be involved, she helped me get in touch with Leisure Services, which was in charge of the new skateboarding program and a new extreme sports division," Gordon said.

The skateboarding program was being run under Leisure Services manager Jim Wheeler. Wheeler, along with his recreation supervisor Larry McNesby and program coordinator Tim Roff, provided Gordon with the resources and support he needed to help grow the program.

"After getting involved around October 2010, I was able to brand and create what is now known as Shred-N-Butter and take the program from one Saturday class to a year-round program running multiple summer camps and serving over 300 kids," Gordon said.

The name Shred-N-Butter came from Gordon, when understanding the potential of the program and the importance of setting it apart from all other RPD programs.

"I was hanging out with my girlfriend at the time and we were talking about the program," Gordon said. "I told her that I wanted to give it a name but was struggling to finalize it; we were kicking around ideas when I came up with Shred-N-Butter."

The Leisure Services department is supporting kids' activities that had never been offered before.

"Kids usually only had the choice of joining ball sports, not action sports," said Rex Biteng, a recreation coordinator at the Richmond Recreation Center.

The goal of the program is to allow youth to practice an activity in a safe environment supervised by an adult in a positive environment.

"As a former skateboarder myself I could have only wished for this type of program in the late '80s," said Mike Xavier, a recreation coordinator at Richmond Rec. "I learned mostly the hard way how to balance and ride on a board."

Supporters of the program say it is proven that when youth have access to activities such as sports, music, theatre and art they are less exposed to harsher realities, like crime and drugs.

"I do believe it has a positive effect on helping youth stay positive," Gordon said. "I attribute where I am and my personal outlook on life to skateboarding and the lessons it has taught and brought forth to me."

Youth can register for the Shred-N-Butter program by calling (415) 831-6800 or by going online to the website