Used skate initiative rolls into the Twin Ports

Getting skates on feet and getting folks outdoors is the program's goal.

081721.N.ST.Skate 3_WEB.jpg
Abby Jean Goodell, right, takes a selfie as she skates with her mentee, Aaliyah, 11. The pair have been matched through Mentor North for a year. Goodell recently started the All Skate No Hate initiative to purchase and refurbish used roller skates to give away to members of the community. Contributed / Abby Jean Goodell

A local artist is sharing her passion for roller skating with the community.

Abby Jean Goodell, co-owner of Ink Tattoo in Superior, purchased 160 pairs of skates from the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, after it shut down permanently last spring. Her goal is to get them on the feet of folks in the Twin Ports area, particularly young people involved in Mentor North, through the All Skate No Hate initiative.

"Some families and mentors have pre-signed up for skates so they get first dibs on the sizes they need. But there will be many sets in various sizes left over to give out to the community," Goodell said.

Goodell was involved with roller derby from 2007-2019, as a member of the Harbor City Roller Derby, North Star Roller Derby in Minneapolis and Minnesota Roller Derby in St. Paul.

RELATED: School supply drive kicks off in Superior Items needed include notebooks, pencils, headphones and backpacks.


RELATED: Doors open at North Country Independent Living The agency paired the ribbon-cutting for its new location with the 31st anniversary of the ADA.

“Through roller skating I found lifelong friends, a supportive and inclusive community, countless ways to be creative, and immense joy that I want to pass on,” she said.

The Superior woman has been a mentor to 11-year-old Aaliyah for the past year. The pair share time together skating, making crafts, building playlists and just hanging out.

“What’s really cool about Mentor North is they try to match you with a youngster that has the same hobbies and things they want to do and stuff,” Goodell said.

Her mentee has even introduced her to new things like TikTok.

“It’s been really cool. Aaliyah is so much cooler than I’ll ever be. And her family is really awesome and it’s been super cool being able to be a part of someone’s life,” Goodell said.

Goodell hopes her All Skate No Hate initiative can help. The group gathers and fixes up roller skates to give away to the community. The shuttering of the St. Louis Park rink jump-started the program.

“Though Roller Garden closing was a sad event, I saw an opportunity to put some good into the world,” Goodell said. “I hope to make roller skating accessible to folks who might not be able to afford the often hefty fees of acquiring skates.”


081721.N.ST.Skate 5.jpg
Used skates from the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, were auctioned off June 16, 2021, following the closing of the rink. Contributed / Abby Jean Goodell

She reached out for funding, and the community responded with enough money to get the initiative rolling. Goodell purchased 160 pairs of skates at auction, crammed them in the back of her vehicle and brought them to the Twin Ports. Some pairs were decorated by local artists and auctioned off to raise money for additional used skates in popular sizes. A GoFundMe fundraiser for the initiative has also been set up.

The tattoo artist planned to begin giving away free skates at the annual Mentor North Barbecue earlier this month, but it was canceled due to the weather and the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the area.

Becka Tuinei-Williams, program advocate for Mentor Superior, called the All Skate No Hate initiative amazing, creative and a great way to connect young people.

“What more to get kids together either outside of the rink or out even within their own neighborhood, you know, on the sidewalk seeing kids out there more,” Tuinei-Williams said. “I think a lot of times we’ve, due to COVID, we’ve kind of accepted indoors as the only way we could go right now, and I love her idea that it brought kids to go back outside.”

Mentors needed

Mentor North is the umbrella organization for Mentor Duluth and Mentor Superior. Both are actively seeking mentors to pair with an increasingly long wait list of students. Mentor Superior currently has 17 families matched with mentors and 33 young people waiting for their match. Mentor Duluth has 104 current matches and 177 youngsters on its waiting list.

Recruiting mentors has slowed to a crawl during the pandemic, while those who were matched with young people came up with creative ways to keep their connections strong.


“What we did was we moved,” said Beth Burt, executive director of Mentor North.

Forms, meetings and forums went online; meetings with families were transferred to outdoor settings. Mentors made a pivot, as well, seeking outdoor activities and creative solutions to spend time together.

“We really worked with the mentors to come up with ways to make connections,” Burt said. “So we had our mentors do things like write letters and send little craft kits, and they would do them together over Zoom.”

Goodell encouraged adults in the Twin Ports to become a mentor.

"There is a very long waitlist full of awesome kiddos waiting for their matches," the artist said. "It's only an 8-12 hours per month commitment and is a really great way to be a part of your community and support our youth."

081721.N.ST.Skate 1.jpg
Abby Jean Goodell of Superior smiles from the driver's seat of her vehicle after picking up 160 pairs of used skates from the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. She purchased the skates at auction in June, and plans to give them away to community members in the Twin Ports, particularly those involved in Mentor North. Contributed / Abby Jean Goodell

Tuinei-Williams said the community has been very supportive of Mentor Superior, which was launched in 2012. The matched pairs are invited to events and receive an activity pass that offers discounts or free visits to area attractions.

“The mentors say that it’s a really meaningful volunteer experience,” Tuinei-Williams said, one that has taught them new things and helped them grow. “Not only does that have an impact on this youth and that family, but then that spreads out into the large community. The more supported our youth are, the better off the whole community is."

Visit the Mentor North website, , or Mentor Superior Facebook page to learn more about the program and the local young people seeking a friend.

This story originally listed the wrong address for Abby Goodell. It was updated at 8:20 a.m. Aug. 18, 2021. Goodell lives in Superior. The Telegram regrets the error.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
What To Read Next