When the movie “Trashin’” came out in the late ‘80s, it portrayed skateboarders as nothing more than troublemakers. There was the occasional glimpse into the jaw-dropping, creative stunts of skateboarders (with Tony Hawk pool skating), and the impressive skills of then unknown Josh Brolin. But overall, it didn’t paint a flattering image of the subculture.
And so skaters have had a kind of bad reputation, with security officers chasing teens out of parking lots, sidewalks, and other public places where skating merits a ticket.
Give a Kid a Place to Skate
It turns out that all skaters need is a place to perfect their tricks and hone their skills: a skatepark. They need to perfect tricks and hone skills because skating is a sport, and sports develop discipline, dedication, perseverance — all the good stuff children need to cultivate to become upstanding citizens of the world.
Here’s another reason for skateparks: The Tony Hawk Foundation survey reveals that skateparks reduce youth crime. Of the police officers surveyed in 37 states, 90% found skateparks beneficial to communities, 87% reported a decrease in complaints from business owners about skate-related issues, and 97% reported no major issues on skateparks.
More than Bowls, Ramps, and Full Pipes
But it can’t be just any park with bowls, ledges, ramps, and rails for doing street stunts. It has to be a well-designed park. OC Ramps finds that including spaces for mingling and hanging out into a concrete skatepark’s design improves its function as a public space. It then becomes a good place for the community to gather.
The Public Skatepark Development Guide even provides a rundown of a good park design. It addresses usability, such as flow, traffic, and visibility, and functional concerns, such as access, seating, and safety, among others
Skateboarding may have started out with a bad reputation. But its popularity and recognized positive impact in communities are giving it the flattering image it deserves.