Prisoners paint old skateboard decks to raise money for kids in need

AVENAL, Calif. (KFSN) -- Inmates at Avenal State Prison are hoping a gesture done behind bars will create an opportunity for others on the outside.

"With these hands I've destroyed communities," said Javier Quintero, who's been incarcerated since 1996. "And with the same hands, I'm trying to rebuild."

Quintero is part of a small group of inmates at Avenal who are taking part in a program where they paint old skateboard decks that will be auctioned off for charity.

The prison is partnered with Fresno Skateboard Salvage for the program. Rodney Rodriguez started Skateboard Salvage after noticing a significant number of kids who were coming to local skate parks without good equipment.

"We've helped a lot of kids, well over 600 this point," Rodriguez said. The organization provides Central Valley youth with new skateboards, a helmet, and safety gear as needed.

When it's all said and done, 40 boards will be painted by the inmate artists at Avenal. The painted boards will be auctioned at Fresno's Gazebo Gardens in mid-November, with the funds set to be used to keep supplying local kids with new skate gear.

"I'm really just blown away by how well all this turned out," Rodriguez said.

The partnership with the prison also serves as rehabilitation for the inmates and can help lead to an earlier release.

"The inmates here, when they work together, they see that what they're doing inspires other inmates giving back to the community that they feel they've helped destroy," said Michael Tuntakit with Avenal Prison. "For them, it's helping them rebuild."

"Yeah I'm a criminal, I did something I take full responsibility for but that action doesn't define who I am," said Jimie Tran, one of the inmate artists.

"If anything it's really motivating to become better. With opportunities like this it allows us to show the community that we are willing to make amends and give back."

An exact date for the auction will be announced at a later date.
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