Are Skate-Mums the new Dance-Mums?

Oct 2022Sport, Stories

Written by Ashe Young.

Photo credit: CONVIC – Jurien Bay Skatepark

After spending what seems like more than half of my Mum-Life at the skatepark, I have come to the reluctant conclusion I must be a Skate-Mum. On behalf of the Kalbarri Skateboarding community I would like to open discussions around upgrading the current skate park or building a new one to support our growing needs.

Skateboarding has taken off more than ever in the last decade evidenced by its introduction to the olympics and the popularity of their events. Having travelled to (almost) every skate park between Margaret River to Darwin, ours is severely lacking in size, obstacles and safety.

I am often down there with 30+ people using it, between the ages of 1 and 40 and because it is so small it’s becomes very dangerous with so many people of different levels using the same small runs at the same time.

Its current location is rather hot and bare with very little shade, the wind blows dust throughout the park and the rocks that are in the centre of the park are blown onto the runs and into the bowl where they can pose a danger.

It also doesn’t have enough obstacles or runs for our kids to develop to their highest potential. Professional Skateboarding has three divisions and our park barely caters to two, it has a bowl and street section but no park at all. And park was one of the most popular events in the olympics with an Australian boy winning gold.

Newer parks in WA are often built in prime locations to encourage community engagement, entertainment and tourism. We often spend a whole day at the Freo skate park, right in the heart of the Esplanade where people just come and sit and watch. It’s so beautiful to see elderly people sitting there mesmerised and engaging with the kids. It’s a beautiful show of community spirit.

We often go to Jurien just to be apart of their skate community with a lovely park right on the foreshore next to the nature playground. This brings families together so kids of all ages can all enjoy the day together in a beautiful space, as opposed to sending the teenagers out the back of town where they are hidden away and are sometimes unsupervised. In my experience, Jurien Bay and Kalbarri offer polar opposite skate experiences for my family.

Our kids lost a lot of activities after Seroja and we feel that opening discussions around and upgrade or rebuild of our skate park would benefit the whole community.

CONVIC, one of the world’s top ranked Skatepark Design and Build Companies, said in their most recent annual report: “Skating in particular provides sports tourism opportunities and provides economic benefits on a regional and national scale, enlivening a community with spectators and vibrancy. Popular skate spaces can become well known on a national and global scale. These spaces can connect skate communities together on a worldwide network. An example of this is the St Kilda Skate Park, which is a highly sculptural transition orientated facility on the iconic St Kilda foreshore. This park brings visitors from around the world with many global skate companies visiting the facility and holding demonstrations of international professional skaters to sell their brands profile and skate equipment.”

The report then went on to highlight some of the key things communities do wrong when building a skate park, and I believe the following could be true of Kalbarri:

  • Many facilities are delivered as a response to pent-up demand with little consideration given to the future. This ad-hoc and reactionary approach to provision results in facilities that are often poorly located, too small, and not adequately serving the needs of the broader community.
  • Location is critical. Often parks are located in isolated areas with no natural surveillance. A successful skate park needs to be accessible – close to commercial centres. parks in the hearts of our community prove the most successful locations as they are where teenagers want to be.
  • The most common mistakes in facility provision are underestimating usage and failing to adequately understand who will be using the facility and the diversity of their needs.

Young people in general relate to skate parks, and often have a sense of ownership and comfort in them, as spaces that actively welcome them. Because skate parks are essentially youth-centric in this way there is a great opportunity to use them to provide for a wider demographic of young people in the community, offering facilities and activities that actively promote and encourage use by non-skating and non-riding young people as well as other community members.

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