Meet Yanise, the 23-year-old rollerblading across the United States raising money for One Girl Can. Yanise is a self-taught long distance rollerblader and a passionate human rights and happiness advocate. Her aim is to break the world record for longest distance travelled on inline skates, all while supporting girls’ education in areas of the world where gender equality and oppression are still rampant.
Now in New York and with almost 1500 miles under her belt, we caught up with Yanise to find out about her journey to date.
Tell us about your journey so far.
“As of June 7, I have been skating for 87 days from Florida all the way to New York. Despite not having any money to start with, there’s not been a day I go without shelter or go hungry. Strangers have opened their doors and hearts for me. Instantaneously we become one family. I’m still in awe of the genuine kindness of the people I meet every day. Drivers honk and wave to say hello and go around me, some even pull over to give me hugs and blessings. Lots of people offer me food or places to stay!”
What inspired you to start this adventure?
“It broke my heart when I was in Hong Kong and asked for a phone to make a call. I was rejected four times even though everyone had the latest model smart phones in their hands. Whereas when I was traveling through a poor town in Honduras, a country which the world considers a dangerous place with high crime rates, I asked for a phone on a bus and a flock of passengers came to offer me theirs and offered to help me find my way. One family even took the time to wait with me until I was safely picked up. I realized the more people have, the more sceptical they become. Humanity is kind, but we sometimes let fears get in the way. If we put down our guards, prejudices and fears, we can see the word with a much more positive light. That’s what I want to show the world – that there are a lot more good people than bad people in this world and love is the key to unity.”
What has been your favourite day skating, and why?
“It’s hard to single out one favourite day because every single day is a huge surprise full of astonishing events, but staying with children always warms my heart. Children have drawn me travel kits with rollerblades, made me handcrafted bracelets, and hugged me so tightly saying “I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay forever.” As I turned off the light, one 7-year-old jumped off his bed to come and affectionately tell me “I love you. Good night.”
Why did you choose to fundraise for One Girl Can?
“I’ve always been passionate about ending child marriage since I was a teenager. I believe education is the single most important channel for girls in country where women are underappreciated to learn about their potential and explore their passion. The mission of One Girl Can aligns with that of mine, as I too, believe what one girl can achieve is more than just being married off and bearing children. I grew up in a female dominated community where women were told they’re just as capable as men. The best work I’ve seen is done by both men and women working hand in hand and I wish this could be applied in more places.”
Yanise was recently approached by an anonymous donor who was so inspired by her journey he committed to matching all donations, up to a total of $20,000! You can support Yanise’s fundraising efforts here and stay updated on her travels on social media (Facebook & Instagram).