There are hundreds of communities across the United States working to create their first public skatepark. Each of these projects is facing its own unique challenges; from noxious NIMBYism and risk-phobic city attorneys to slashed budgets and fiscal crises.
Yet, skateparks don’t just exist in utopian communities. Wherever skateparks are created, they immediately start providing tangible benefits that can help address many of the community’s other challenges.
At the Tony Hawk Foundation, we hear from all kinds of different communities, and we find ourselves encouraging city leaders in the same ways. Here are the eight things we’d like every city official to know about skateparks and skateboarding.
Young People Need Community Support
People of all ages, and particularly adolescents, benefit from community engagement and a sense of belonging. Skateparks demonstrate that your community is committed to providing healthy options to young people.
There Are Skaters In Your Community Right Now
There are millions of skateboarders across the nation, and even the smallest towns have a few kids that skate (about 18% of all youth skate at least occasionally). You may have even had them already show interest in a new skatepark for your town. Without that local skatepark, those young people are riding their skateboards in places that are probably inappropriate.
Kids Are Seeking Fun Places To Go
Kids love having fun. Healthy play is one of the most enriching activities that a young person can engage in. Leaders like you have an important role in providing safe places for kids to play. If you visit any skatepark, you’ll see dozens of young people all having fun together. What more could you want from a recreational facility?
Friendships Are Being Formed At The Skatepark
Your community is nothing more than a network of professional and personal relationships that are built in places where people come together. Skateparks draw people from all walks of life and encourage relationships that often last a lifetime. If you ask a skateboarder, they’ll tell you that they have an easier time relating to other skateboarders than to average people. The skatepark helps these people connect with each other.
Skaters Are Exposed To Negative Stereotypes
Skateboarding youth often claim that they are shunned by their communities and harassed by law enforcement for doing something that they feel is positive and beneficial. When skateparks are proposed, concerned neighbors often oppose the idea based on their negative opinions about skateboarders. These ideas help create an environment of hostility and acrimony … but it can be healed by creating a place where skaters can feel welcome.
Skateboarding Is A Good Fit For Risk-Seeking Teens
Skateboarding resonates with thrill-seekers because it offers exciting physical feats that can be safely attempted. Skateboarding is as risky as the skater is willing to make it. Or as safe.
Skateparks Are A Worthwhile Investment
Concrete skateparks are atypical in that they require specialty design and construction services that can be more expensive than standardized facilities. Once built, however, skateparks immediately become one of the area’s most-utilized attractions and are virtually maintenance-free. Trash-removal is the only regular maintenance a skatepark should ever need.
Your Skatepark Will Be A Community Landmark
While most communities are apprehensive about their first skatepark, the number-one regret is that they didn’t make it larger. Skateparks, once built, quickly demonstrate their incredible value and unmatched return on the community’s investment. Even the nay-sayers often revise their negative opinions about skateboarders and skateparks after they see the typical skatepark activities.
To learn more about skateparks and get your new public skatepark started, please visit www.skatepark.org.
Tony Hawk Foundation
A charitable, non-profit organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation was established in 2002 by its namesake, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. THF promotes and provides advocacy training and funds for high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas throughout the United States that promote healthy, active lifestyles, and to International programs that enrich the lives of youth through skateboarding.
Domestically, the Foundation’s Skatepark Grant program has awarded over $5.8-million to 596 communities in all 50 States. The Foundation focuses on working with local officials and grassroots, community-based organizations that plan to hire designers and contractors with strong experience designing and building skateparks.
The Foundation’s International Program has provided technical support and awarded $150,000 to assist youth through the Skateistan educational programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa (www.skateistan.org).
The Tony Hawk Foundation was established by a gift from Tony Hawk. Its directors raise additional funds through events, industry donations, and continuing contributions from Tony and other entities. For more information, visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.skatepark.org. You can also visit THF on facebook and Instagram @tonyhawkfoundation, and on Twitter @THF.