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A few kind questions with Calli Kelsay

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A few kind questions with Calli Kelsay

Skaterising founder Calli Kelsay’s story of passion and kindness is sure to inspire. We sat down with Calli to learn more about what motivates her to serve. Enjoy!
Photos: Weston Fuller, Mike Moore & Calli Kelsay


Who is Calli Kelsay? 

I am the mother of four incredible children, wife to superman, founder of Skate Rising, and an advocate for women empowerment and so many more worthy causes. Our backyard turned skatepark, the Ohana Bowl, has been called the United Nations of skateboarding, by our friends, because we offer foreigners visiting Encinitas a friendly home like experience to skate in, and we represent our skate family from around the world by displaying their country flags above the bowl.


What is Skate Rising?

Skate Rising is the inclusive youth program, of Exposure Skate,  that offers free monthly events in Encinitas, CA and Phoenix, AZ. The events are geared toward girls ages 4-18. At each event the participants learn about needs in their community, do service projects to help fill those needs, and learn to skateboard through professionally run clinics. Skateboarding is used as a conduit to teach confidence, resilience, and many more life lessons. The purpose is to teach compassion through service opportunities and empowerment through skateboarding. I founded the program with the help of my friend Nina Seibert in 2016.


Why did you start Skate Rising? 

I started Skate Rising after seeing the positive life lessons that came from my oldest two daughters taking up skateboarding. I recognized the importance of girls being resilient, having confidence, and persevering and knew every girl would benefit from these important life lessons at a young age.

I added the service aspect to offer a platform for compassionate acts so the girls could recognize the humanity in each person surrounding them. Each of us deserves love, compassion, respect, and the feeling that we matter because we do.


What is the Ohana Bowl?

The Ohana Bowl is our backyard skate bowl that is lined with flags from around the world representing our Ohana, our friends that are like family, that we have met through skateboarding. It is also a safe place for learning, and supporting others through skateboarding. It’s our families favorite outdoor space where we skate, ride BMX bikes, roller skate, play dodgeball, and watch movies on the vert.


What are your hopes for the next generation? What role does Skate Rising play in shaping the next generation?

My hope is that every girl that participates in Skate Rising will be confident leaders of today that inspire others in the process. The future needs compassionate, confident leaders that recognize the needs of others and the support that they can be. So my hope is that the Skate Rising participants with be that and support others in doing the same.

What role does kindness play in your life? And what does it mean to you?

Kindness plays a major role in my life. It is the foundation my family is built upon. It is also a subject I speak about daily with my four children, frequently through social media, and at Skate Rising events.


When I think of kindness so many other words come to mind like unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and empathy. These words encompass the essence of being a kind human.

Mother Teresa said, “Spread love wherever you go, let no-one ever come to you without leaving happier.” I love this quote because I feel that when I have that perspective I am happier and go out of my way to help others be happy as well.

It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger or as in depth as devoting your life to the service of others as Mother Teresa did. I believe that as we recognize how interconnected we are and remove judgement towards others we begin to see those surrounding us as they truly are, invaluable members of society in need of love and compassion.


Name a kind human (either living or deceased) and ask yourself why are they kind?

Thinking of just one kind human is near impossible for me. Some of my favorite kind humans are the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafzai, Maya Angelou, Jesus Christ and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Every one of these individuals have shown great compassion, empathy, they alleviate suffering to those that surround them, and bring joy to all they can. Kindness emanates from them.


How do you show kindness?

I try to start my day with a moment of gratitude and pray about the things I am grateful for. Then I express gratitude to my children for things I see them doing. I seek out those around me that are in need of a helping hand or a listening ear. Then I go and do the best that I can to serve others.

We teach children to skate at our house once a week for fun, we do monthly service projects in the community through Skate Rising and other service oriented activities as a family frequently. I just try to treat others the way I would like to be treated and I hope to lead my children, by example, to do the same.

Being kind and compassionate toward myself is part of it all as well. In my experience, this is harder to do because I am human and make mistakes every day. But, I try to remind myself that every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow.


Who’s shown you kindness? And how are they kind?

There is a woman named Charity that I met while passing out meal kits to the homeless in San Diego last year. She came up and asked if she could help pass out the kits. The answer was yes. She helped pass out over 150 kits and knew each homeless individual by name.

I came to find out that she was living on the streets with her wife and son as well. She took the time to serve others even though she was in need. When I asked her why she helped she sad, “We are a family down here and we need to look out for each other… It’s about knowing your surroundings and the people in your surroundings, as long as you know that you know you can make a difference.”

This situation changed me. Charity and I have remained friends and she has taught me about what it means to truly see others for who they are and to serve with unconditional love because we all matter.

The second time we met she said “Maybe my step up will make others step up, if I can just get one person to step up with me then maybe that one can get another and it can be rain drops of effect.” Charity had been through very difficult times yet pushed through adversity and chose to not let her hardships stop her from serving and supporting those around her.

The kindness she showed impacted so many and I got to witness that.

Now, Charity is off the streets and has opened her apartment to homeless youth here in San Diego. I had the chance to bring them Thanksgiving dinner last year and meet the youth she was giving shelter to.  It is incredible to see what can happen when we are kind and open to serving others.

My children show me compassion and kindness through forgiveness, random acts of love and patience every day. They teach me through their example how to love and serve unconditionally. They also remind me that every day is a gift to be appreciated.

My husband comes home from work eager to help with dishes and bedtimes. He encourages me to follow my passions and supports me in them as well.

Every volunteer that comes and serves alongside me at the monthly Skate Rising events shows love and kindness through their service to our youth. They are the reason these events can even exist.


What is a message you want to spread and leave with the Kindhumans community?

We all have been through hardships, we have all needed help in our lives, if we recognize that every person has struggled at one time or another we can see others as people. Seeing others for who they are and who they can be matters. We all need grace.


Author Profile:

Calli lives with her family of six in Encinitas, CA. She was born and raised there and could never leave her beautiful town. It is her happy place 🙂 She is deeply passionate about our youth, skateboarding, education and connecting with others.

“I am beyond grateful for the people in my life, the community that surrounds me and the kind humans I meet daily that inspire me.”
—Calli Kelsay Founder of Skate Rising

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