At ten years old, Barbara Odanaka fell in love with skateboarding. But like so many of us, as she grew up, other things took precedence. Twenty five years later, she returned to her board, and hasn’t looked back since.

Today, Barbara, 53, is a children’s book author and the founder of Skateboard Moms And The Sisters Of Shred, a nonprofit organization that empowers women through skateboarding.

Barbara went back to skateboarding when after prematurely giving birth to her son, she found herself having a tough time transitioning to motherhood. At the advice of a therapist, Barbara returned to her favorite childhood activity as a way to escape the stress she was experiencing.

“I hadn’t been on a board in 25 years, but as soon as I stepped on, it was like I was ten years old all over again,” Barbara says in the video.


In 2004, wanting to connect with other skate-obsessed women, Barbara started Skateboard Moms And The Sisters Of Shred. Since, the group has grown to include more than 400 members from around the world. Their oldest member is 80!

“We aim to shred stereotypes, stay fit, and add a dose of danger to our minivan, mac-and-cheese existence. You do not have to be a mom to join, there are no dues, and all experience levels are welcome,” Barbara explains.

In addition to getting together to drop in at local skateparks, the group hosts an annual fundraiser called, Mighty Mama Skate-O-Rama, a non-competitive skate jam hosted every Mother’s Day, with proceeds benefiting a local charity organization.

“I guess I am one of those lucky people. I know my passion and I try to make my passion not only my lifestyle, but also my profession.”

Barbara’s inspiring story was recently the subject of this short film as part of AARP’s new “Be Fearless at 50″ campaign, to recognize “real people age 50 and over who are living boldly in unexpected ways.”

It’s never too old to try something new, but Barbara warns: “If you are you an adult who’s interested in learning to skateboard, please don’t even THINK about stepping on a board (not even ‘just this once’) unless you’re wearing proper safety gear, especially a well-fitting helmet. Don’t worry about looking cool…yet!”

Pretty sound advice.

Want to learn more? You connect with Barbara on Facebook.