THE SKATEPARK FOUNDATION  
how to get a skatepark in your town
 

ADVOCACY MISCONCEPTIONS

You may begin your effort believing that the skatepark will be a cool thing for your community (it will be). Your understanding of skateparks may not go much deeper than that.

You may have already made the connection between skateparks and young people being healthy and physically active. A kid on a skateboard is a kid that isn’t doing drugs or getting into trouble, and that a skatepark will help reduce the “nuisance” of public areas of your town.. These are all effective platforms for your skatepark message, but you’ll need to develop a deeper knowledge.

What you don’t know about skateparks probably outweighs what you do know. That will change. Before long you will be the local expert on skateparks. You will have work to correct other peoples’ misconceptions about skateboarding and skateboarders.

Over time, you will gain valuable insight and learn about the process of getting a skatepark, what advocacy techniques work and what techniques don’t.

These lessons can sometimes come at a cost to your project’s progress. Most are avoidable and can be prevented by something as simple as a shift in tone, a change in approach or, emphasizing a different aspect of the project. One of the goals of the Skatepark Foundation is to help you avoid any approach that might hinder your progress.



The most common misconceptions of inexperienced advocates are:

     
  • The skate industry will rally behind this project.
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  • Our village/town/city hates skateboarders.
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  • The skatepark will cause an increase in tourism.
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  • Everyone that has a concern wants to shut the project down.
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  • The park might be paid for by one wealthy donor.
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  • A new skatepark will take a few months.
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  • It is better to ask for something small than something large.
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  • A nicely worded email will make all the difference.
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  • The Skatepark Foundation might build it for us.
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  • Anything is better than nothing.
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  • “No” means “never.”
  •    
  • It’s not worth the effort.

 

What really drives skatepark advocacy is enthusiasm, contagious positivity, unwavering commitment, and trusted partnerships. Each of these misconceptions will resolve itself as you gain experience and gather information.


Here is that same list, corrected:


  • The skate industry may help in small, limited ways.
  •  
  • Our village/town/city doesn’t understand skateboarders.
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  • Some skateparks attract skaters from a wide area.
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  • Some community concerns are valid and should be negotiated.
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  • The park will be paid for by engaging diverse and creative sources.
  •    
  • The skatepark will take a few years.
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  • It is better to propose a plan that meets your community’s needs..
  •    
  • Thousands of nicely worded emails will make all the difference.
  •    
  • The Skatepark Foundation is a key resources that can help our project progress.
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  • A skatepark failure is worse than no skatepark.
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  • "No” means you’re not asking the right question.
  •    
  • It’s totally worth the effort.

 


Through experience, you will learn that there are dozens of ways of understanding and depicting your skatepark project. For each misconception someone may have about your skatepark project, your experience will allow you to meet them with a comfortable way of addressing that concern.

 

"A Skatepark?"

When you mention “skatepark” to an uninitiated audience, you don’t really have an idea of exactly what it is that they are visualising in their minds. Imagine that you are standing in front of a City Council meeting to talk about the skatepark project. The council and members of the audience listen politely, but each individual is thinking of something different:

 

When you say:

We’d like to see a new skatepark for our community.”

They might hear:

“We’d like to build a stadium with a bunch of ramps in it.”

 

This person might have seen a contests or demos on television. They imagine a huge halfpipe with people flying through the air and hundreds of spectators. That kind of facility seems inappropriate for your town and so they think skateboarding is a poor cultural fit. Huge crowds are not the norm at skateparks.

Their preconceptions have influenced their idea of a skatepark.

They also might hear:

“We’d like to have a place to be noisy and disruptive.”

 

Imagine that this person walks their dog near the school. Whenever a skater rolls by the dog freaks out. The skater just keeps going without a word (probably to get away from the snarling dog). This person sees skateboarders as inconsiderate and disruptive. They consider that a skatepark will be filled with inconsiderate youth that make a racket all day and night.

Again, their idea of a skatepark is colored by their personal experience.

They also might hear:

“We are suicidal and need a place to break our necks!”

 

This person is an involved parent and is concerned that the facility might encourage reckless youth behavior. They envision kids limping away from the skatepark with scrapes and bruises. All they see is risk.

Perhaps they hear:

"We expect the town to pay for our hobby."

This person might be a financial hawk and skeptical of any public spending for anything, and quickly concludes that the value to the community isn’t worthy of any public funding. They might see skateboarding as a fad that appeals only to a small number of youth.

Their opinion of the skatepark is influenced by their political views.

… and so on.

Not all preconceptions are negative. Many people see skateparks in the same way you do: community gathering spaces that celebrate and support a particular kind of recreational activity. An effective advocate knows how to carefully choose their words and phrases to help people imagine the skatepark accurately.

Make no mistake: Skateparks can be controversial. But there are ways of managing these preconceptions and avoiding the common pitfalls that come with advocating for a polarising issue. For every positive opinion of skateboarders and skateparks, there is a negative one, and vice versa. We will cover how to manage these issues more later on.

For now, you only need to recognize that you have a responsibility to understand skateparks in a way that can break through these preconceptions.

 


ARTICLES RELATED TO THIS SECTION

Start a Facebook page

Start a Petition for your Skatepark

Form a Skatepark Group

Have a Skatepark Group meeting

Write a Mission Statement

Contact a Skatepark Company for Designs of Parks they've built

 

 

  THE SKATEPARK FOUNDATION