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Skate Parks as a Context for Adolescent Development

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  • Category: Sports

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Skate boarding was once, simply a past-time activity. One that surfers did during the summer between the tidal activities that produced waves that were conductive to riding. Over the past several decades it has taken its fair share of roller coaster rises and declines in popularity. Today, the sport of skateboarding has crossed oceans and landmasses to take hold in nearly every corner of the globe. It even transcends traditional barriers that most main stream sports have trouble with like; language, social classes, genders and income levels.

Even with the expansive reach and rapid growth, many people still hold very negative outlooks on skateboarding and skaters themselves. Many are unjust or reminiscent of outdated ideas. Furthermore, those people have advocated for legislation to ban skateboarding as a whole and enforce extremely harsh punishments for those that partake in the activity. These ideas and actions have effectively criminalized skateboarders and alienated youth across America.

Studies have even be conducted and proven that the act of skateboarding has beneficial impacts on social development of youth and young adults. There are organizations that use skateboarding for therapeutic purposes for children with autism. Additionally, many cities with skate parks have seen a reduction in crimes committed by youth. As many have hear idle hands make for mischief, thus if they have something to do and enjoy doing, they are less likely to commit crimes and get into trouble with the authorities.

With this explosive growth of participants joining yearly and massive amounts of revenue generated annually, cities and corporations alike have taken advantage and even exploited the sport’s popularity. While cities have heavily banned and placed restriction on where citizens are allowed to skate, they still jump at the opportunity to host huge events that generate enormous influxes of revenue associated with them. Companies are even using skaters and likenesses to inflate revenue growth. This even extends to companies that have nothing to do with skateboarding what so ever. Still the skateboard industry amasses billions of dollars yearly. Surely, this amount of cash flow has some positive implications on local and global economies.

Many people view skateboarders and the sport in rather negative preconceptions. These views and outlooks are usually due to a lack of understanding, narrowed mindedness, outdated concepts, and a lot of ill representations by the media. One idea that many people have and seems to be a major kindling for altercations involving skaters, is that skateboarders are disrespectful delinquents. This idea is a product of people being ego centered and narrow minded, and has persisted through the decades since the 1960’s. Droughts forced people to drain backyard pools. Skaters started to experiment with riding the walls of empty pools, because they resembled waves the never broke. Many of these kids were not looking to cause trouble, but with their new, differing view of the world, they tended to get in trouble for skating in the drained backyard pools. It had to do with something about trespassing being illegal.

These skate parks and the skateboarders are so often misunderstood. When this sport is compared with the ancient games like baseball and football, which has been already become so much infringed into our culture, action sports and skateboarding are always on the fringe of the society mainstream. These actions are still being much heckled with negative stereotypes portraying them as social outlaws with so much respect for authority. It is hence not funny that these skateboarders are being looked upon in this state by the public as this is the picture that has been created about them.

Broad minds

           When one tries to think about it in a different manner rather this outdated stereotype, you one get to know that these games provides a vital space for the community to participate and hence be very active and be part of a unique community far from idleness. It has been noted that the cities with well built skate parks generate a lot of revenues for the mother government and also create an avenue for tremendous benefits to the community. Apart from these communities viewing skate parks as unconstructive endeavor, communities around the globe have now started to embrace their benefits showcasing their acrobatic and artistic spirit.

With help of highly experienced skate park design and construction firms, all the communities can really feel safe knowing that their skate parks will adequately serve their needs for many years in the future. When well functioned and balanced skate parks are well combined with quality methods of construction, all the youths will stay in the park instead of them involving themselves with in non-productive activities which negatively impact the state’s well being through fighting with the traffic and properties being damaged by the skaters in the town. These designs have been successfully developed by the Spohn Ranch.

Benefits of Skateboarding

Social skills building

           As our current world is being overwhelmed by the internet browsing, video games and television along with other upcoming activities, kids have highly minimized their time that they should be spending with their peers for interaction and learning. These kids would not be able to develop the skills that they need in their adult hood if they always spend their time behind the screen. A good remedy for this is by developing places like skate parks which acts as avenues where these kids can interact and build not only the interpersonal skills, but also the vital skills that are needed for their development. When a skate park is brought up, a certain community will develop around it and this will help shape them especially the ones that want to identify themselves with certain games, this community will provide them with a great sense of belonging hence they will lead a very joyful life. When kids and adults show up in these parks, gender, race and age are all suspended and all that matters then is their passion and attitude towards skating.

If we compare skating and snowboarding where gears, lift tickets specialized and transportation is very expensive, skateboarding stands out to be a very cost effective undertaking that can be enjoyed by everyone no matter the class. Also, in these parks, many lifelong friendships will build up especially from different people and race. This is so evident in a recent research from an Adolescent Research journal, where Dr. Graham Bradley says that these skate parks are positive places where social skills and civic responsibility is encouraged.

Positive impacts on the mental health

           Skate boarding is also a very unique game as it combines extreme physical excertion with muscle coordination along with balance. The complexities which are involved in these boad tricks improve brain function at a very fundamental level, and hence stimulate new cell growth in the brain. Many schools in the state, for instance an elementary school based in boulder, in 2006 incorporated skate boarding in their curriculum and they called it “skate pass”. The director of this program wanted to bring in the school activities which are deemed to be more individual and non-competitive so that everyone could participate in the same. This is because he felt that most of the pupils felt so much intimidated when completion comes in. He noted one of the advantages of this game is that children never realize that they are learning and incorporates everyone especially the one who didn’t do well in the competitions. He says that this activity does not only help the child in eye-foot coordination but also helps these pupils improve their academic performances. When one is involved in an activity that involves balance, the both brain hemispheres are all stimulated and the body releases a certain hormone that makes these students more receptive to learning hence they would perform better in their academic life. Also research has proved that kids who exercise regularly always perform better in schools and are also able to learn more effectively and accommodate many things in their minds. The combination of brain challenge and the body has a very unique positive impact on one self than aerobatics alone which is evident in other games like rock climbing, whitewater paddling and mountain biking. Apart from the positive impact on the doer’s comprehension and learning, skateboarding also helps to combat the problems of self confidence, stress and depression. In addition, when a skater tires a certain trick for many hours, and then they learn to do it perfectly, this improves their self discipline along with stamina and confidence. You actually feel very good about yourself and also it gives you the morale to continue trying new things in life.

Healthy and active lifestyles promotion

           It is well known that the core reason for participating in all the action games is to keep one healthy and physically fit. Hence finding an activity that will not only sharpen our kids but also keep the healthy is very vital for each and every community, especially when our nation is suffering from national health crisis. The surgeon general of the United States has recently said that obesity is an epidemic which should be fought with by all means. It is the most costly health problem that is faced by the Americans and is costing the government over $90 billion each year. It is also true that in the ratio of three of every five citizens are overweight and one of every five of Americans is an obese. Also, 30% of the United States children are said to be overweight and overweight children have 70% of becoming overweight adults. This has all been as a result of kids spending an average of five and half hours behind computers, televisions and other sorts of screens. Forcing children to participate in some sort of exercise could not be enough remedy for all these problems. Also it has been proven if you only give a kid a limited exercise options will be like punishing them and they won’t be able to do it for long. In addition, there are some experiments which have been carried in the labs by use of rats and they have hence proven that forced exercise do not really have the same effects like a voluntary one. Giving our kids a lot of physical activities to choose from is very essential because one will be able to choose the activity that he/she deems to be the best and one that he/she will voluntarily and freely exercise in. for a growing number of many youth in the States, action sports has been adopted as the best form of exercise to maintain their desired healthy lifestyles. Hence if we fail to provide these kids with the facilities that they require in executing these activities, most likely they will fall back onto the couch and other worse health related problems.

One of the most recent study by john Hopkins a university researcher, said that a regular skating, biking and rollerblading will help increase the chances of fighting the flab in children. These odds were better than the ones who participated in other organized and seasonal sports like football and baseball.

Skate parks will also help the government to combat criminal behaviors

           It is very unfortunate that skate parks are viewed as avenues which promote delinquents, illicit behaviors and other forms of outlawed behaviors. Most of the misinformed members of the community conjure images of inappropriate language, smoking and graffiti when they think or talk about skate parks. In each and every activity that is carried by many people or the public, a bad seed will always germinate, so these are the minority bad seeds which germinate in these skate parks apart from other users who are there to exercise and improve their skating skills. These are also adolescent problems which are unfairly associated with these parks. If these skate park were lacking or they were inadequate, most of the kids would be easily transformed into criminals either through peer pressure or other means. Lacking something to do or having nowhere to go , these kids will most likely involve themselves in outlawed activities.

One of the towns in England released some of their findings after they opened a skate park. This is a skate park which was opened in Driffield and it was said to have helped a lot to cut the youth crimes. Steve Wilson who was the head of the Driffield policing team confirmed this by saying that the skate park had highly helped the youths to divert from criminal behavior by offering to the youth an avenue for a valuable diversion from the anti social activities and encouraged other cities to follow suit.

This officer said this through a letter which was read during a meeting of the town council policy and the committee of finance. He confirmed that since the park had been opened in 2006, there has been a noticeable decreasing in the calls to the youths who were causing chaos and other related unlawful matters. He expressed his support for the facility to be made an all weather facility so that they could create a good siren for the residents and the tourists who would be visiting the town.

In September the year 2008, Spohn Ranch along with his colleague Paul Rodriguez the famous “p-Rod” who is the globally renowned skate boarder, to create an amazing concrete Skate park which was meant for the Wilmington youth which are known to be the most dangerous community in the whole of the US . Spohn, by knowing that this facility would function as the best facility tor the easily influenced youths of Wilmington, he presented to the city of Los Angeles with a grant of $100000 to make sure that this project would become into light. Since its launch, this park has become the best destination of many youths daily with an average of 250-300 skaters a day and more so it has become one of the preferred drop off of the seven neighboring schools helping reduce criminal activities steered by youth by ninety percent.

Tourists’ attraction

           A well designed skate park which is professionally and well maintained will see many new faces into the community. When a community takes time and effort to bring up a unique facility into their vicinity, the economic reward will be obviously immediately felt. Words in some facilities like the likes of skate boarding travels really fast especially when you have a new show piece to offer and in no time you will notice skate boarders and their families trickling into your community to spend their precious time in the facility with their vocational dollars.

There will be numerous visitors from out and within your community who will be coming into the community specifically to try the new facility. For instance the Carbondale skate parks officials admitted that they had had a lot of visitors after they had opened their skate park which they termed as a very big boost to their economy. Also they argued that the skate park has now put them in the map and they direct that one should not underestimate the rewards which a skate park can bring into your community. Never ever mind how the people will know about your newly constructed facility but only mind about constructing a very well thought of facility. They admit that they had numerous visitors in the months of summers, with many visitors coming to skate there, with many large contests being held in the city and the free adverts that these visitors pass from one person to another will also greatly effect their boom.



           One you build a skate park in the community, you will automatically abolish the dangers of the skaters in sharing the streets with the pedestrians and motorists. Even though skate boarding is often perceived as one of the dangerous action sport, studies have shown that this game is safer than most of the other sports. Skating could be more dangerous if it is carried on the streets with motorists and pedestrian because it is most likely to produce serious injuries through collision. But this can be avoided by constructing a well designed skate park which will result into fewer falls.


           It is very uncommon to see a person who is in his/her fifties skating. Mostly the skaters are the youthful males. They are mostly viewed as delinquents in most cases because of their undesignated facilities. When this stereotype fades away through better facilities, it is clear that the majority of the skaters are athletes who have great passion for this sport.


           A well and professionally designed concrete skate park is not that louder than other recreational facilities. As we all know, all the recreational facilities always generate sounds and skate parks are not an exception. A skate park can also be designed in such a way that they contain noise barriers.


           Constructing a world-class skate park can seem to be expensive, with an average of $40/square foot. But even if this park is used on daily basis, it will not show any signs of overuse like other sports. If we compare this with the limited use of tennis court it’s really an efficient use of public funding. When you contract professionals builders like the Spohn Ranch the short and long term maintenance of these parks are very minimal. Money spent on bringing up a skate park for the youth in your community is actually a worthwhile investment and it will always pay dully.


News – “Local school becomes first in nation to teach skateboarding” 3/6/2006

The Juneau Empire – “Riding the Concrete Wave” Teri Tibbett, September 13, 2007

Journal of Adolescent Research – “Skate Parks as a Context for Adolescent Development” Graham L. Bradley, March 2010; vol. 25, 2: pp. 288-323.

Carbondale Recreation & Skatepark Coordinator Chris Woods- Carbondale, Colorado

NBC Philadelphia – “Keeping Active Best Way To Keep Kids Out Of Trouble” April 3, 2006

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