Yojany Perez

Cuba | Ambassador since 2009 | @pyojany

Yojany is considered the best skateboarder in Cuba. This title comes from his fellow skateboard community and tourists, professional skateboarders, and fans who have had the chance to meet him, compete with him, and raise a glass of rum with him.

If you see many of Yojany’s stories and photos here, there’s a simple reason for it. Yojany is the “inspiration” behind Skateboards For Hope, and the namesake, Madrina, he bestowed to the Founder, Betty Esperanza, his Canadian Godmother. The two met serendipitously in 2005, where Yojany received a skateboard as a random gift from Betty. She made him a promise to return with more used skateboards for his friends and that’s how a vibrant and important skater community was built. With our help and his leadership, the cuban skateboarding community has grown bigger, giving opportunities to children to practice the sport with equipment donation and through the creation of cultural, arts and sports events. These actions led to the empowerment of the Cuban youth and fostered inspiration, teaching them to be their own leaders and use skateboarding as a tool to learn important values and life skills. 

Being an ambassador has changed my life since it has made me an example to follow for the boys. It has made me a better person and sees life from a more positive perspective, not giving up and consistently trying to find a way to get ahead. As Betty always says, "It always seems impossible until it's done." (Nelson Mandela). I have learned that you just have to take the step; with love and dedication, everything flows.” When she gave me a skateboard it changed my life. It was like planting a seed and waiting for the tree to sprout.”

Yojany in his early skate days

Yojany’s curiosity for skateboarding became a passion that transformed his life and all the children he has been teaching in his community. He is the designated leader, ambassador, el jefe (the boss) leaving a significant impact and legacy.

He studied economics and worked in various occupations, but his passion always led him to collaborate with others and the lucky tourists he encountered. Although he skateboarded, surfed and longboarded every chance he could get, he made time to develop his love for photography and filmmaking. It also gave him independence as he managed to create local events with restaurants, clubs and artists. His hunger for creative projects transformed the skate scene in less than a decade. It has Yojany’s brand all over it. Anyone who visits Yojany is captivated by his resourcefulness and generosity. Although the dire poverty is apparent and the lack of infrastructure to develop a safe skatepark, Yojany never gives up. He is relentless. A renaissance man of great diplomacy but also a gnarly shredder who leaves everyone impressed. Yojany is the real deal, and we hope you get the chance to meet him or talk with him on social media, where he is sharing his passions and making his life centred  around freedom by skateboarding.

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