THE SKATEPARK FOUNDATION  
how to get a skatepark in your town
 

YOUR CORE PROJECT GROUP


If you’re a skateboarder reading this you probably already have a sense of your core advocacy group - the people you want to work on the project with, local people who think a new skatepark is a great idea.

If you're a Council or Local Authority interested in skatepark development, you face the challenging task of attracting and supporting skatepark users.

Your core group are the individuals from your community that show the most commitment to the skatepark project. They are prepared to talk about the project, help shape the tone and direction of the advocacy effort, and will ultimately become dedicated stewards of the finished facility.

The composition of the core group will have a big effect on its capabilities and efficiency. Almost every group starts off as one of the following three types.

 

1 - ADULT SKATEBOARDER LED GROUP

Adult skateboarders tend to be the most effective skatepark advocates. There are several opportunities afforded them that others may struggle to achieve. Some of these advantages are due to being skateboarders. They understand what is required, what the final result should be. They have, as a potential, a personal stake in a successful outcome. As an adult skater, particularly if they have skating experience, they are granted some immediate credibility within the local skateboarding community. This can reinforce the adult skater’s role as the popular community spokesperson. As an adult, they may bring professional skills to bear on the project, but equally they may struggle to identify essential management skills needed to keep their group healthy and moving forward.

The central challenges to advocacy efforts led by these individuals is a lack of recognized relationships with vital community organizations. In other words, they often need to “start from scratch” with their advocacy.



2 - ADULT NON SKATEBOARDER-LED GROUP

This approach led by teachers, parents or youth workers for example (who probably won't directly be park users) can and does work, if they heavily involve those who will use the finished product. The users must be consulted, their views and input must be listed to and acted upon. The users of the skatepark must be involved throughout the whole process, including location, supplier choice, design and construction. It’s important that these types of groups establish points-of-contact with key individuals within the skateboard & BMX community.

Failure to consult the skatepark users can lead to a skatepark that fails because of poor design and construction. Quality of standards is everything.

Group organisational management is not likely to pose any overt challenges.

 

3-YOUTH LED GROUP

A vast majority of failed skatepark efforts are the result of younger skaters doing everything they can think of to get a skatepark going then giving up when no apparent progress is made. It’s no fault of their own; the skatepark process is challenging under any circumstances.

When youth-led groups are effective, they have received guidance from experienced advocates and/or adults from their community. They have unique advantages that, if effectively employed, can propel the skatepark project forward rapidly. Most significantly, youth-led efforts easily create a public profile that is earnest and passionate. These qualities, coming from teenagers and young adults, can be endearing to the general public.

Unfortunately, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits of a core group populated entirely by youth. Most young adults don’t relate to local political structure and find the required civics lesson unrewarding. As a result, they struggle to identify useful relationships and miss tangential opportunities. Without a larger community context, these groups often focus on the tasks they can immediately investigate, such as gathering petitions, identifying a site, and seeking donations from skatepark companies. When these enthusiastic efforts fail to produce immediate results, the group concludes that nobody supports their concept and they give up.

 

Then there can also be ....



COUNCIL / LOCAL AUTHORITY-LED PROJECTS

Many skatepark efforts are initiated by local authorities - parish, town or city council.. These projects face unique challenges that delay and often result in facilities that are not embraced by the skateboarding community.

One huge bonus is that the Council have already decided that they want to provide a skatepark. With community led projects, it can take significant time and effort to convince the Council to support the project, and to agree to a site.

Councils and local authorities seeking to advance a skatepark project will encounter unique challenges not found in other, more traditional advocacy group structures. Unfortunately, too often the skateparks created by well-intentioned groups like these are long-term failures that do not deliver on community expectations.

One of the key drawbacks is that quality standards for the facility are often misunderstood, leading to a facility that seems adequate to everyone but the users.

Councils can struggle to get skatepark users involved. The perceived cultural barriers between “bureaucrats” and skaters can mean that there is a lack of trust or misguided faith by the skateboarding community that the facility is being created with no expectations of them. If and when the skateboarders disagree with a direction the project is taking, they may feel that they have no avenue or method of input to help the project progress.

Council led projects can lead in lacklustre parks due to a lack of understanding of what is required.


NON-SKATING ADULTS ENLISTING LOCAL SKATERS

It can be difficult for interested non-skaters to contact skaters in a meaningful, collaborative way. It’s even more difficult to provide the leadership tools for those youth to take ownership and champion the project. Skateboarders in their late teens or early twenties may be skeptical of “bureaucrats” wanting to get involved with their scene. These cultural barriers can be overcome but it requires the correct approach.

The first step in engaging local skateboarders and skatepark stakeholders is to host an introductory meeting. This meeting can be advertised on flyers that simply say “Skatepark Meeting” and posted around town, particularly around those areas where skaters currently recreate.

The meeting should be hosted in a local business or library known to local youth, as opposed to, say, a conference room in City Hall. The intention in choosing a neutral location for your first meeting is to establish a collaborative tone rather than a hierarchical one.

Successful advocacy groups identify early on what their group is missing and make an effort to fill that gap. Advocacy groups composed entirely of younger skaters will work toward recruiting adult skaters and non-skaters to their cause.

Adult skaters will build relationships with the younger skateboarders in their community, as well as community leaders and agency liaisons. Local authority-led efforts are wise to establish a group of skatepark advisors culled directly from the local skateboarding community.

 

WHAT MAKES THE MOST SUCCESSFUL GROUPS.



On average, the most effective skatepark advocacy groups:

 

Are led by an adult skateboarder.


Are populated by a mix of adult and younger skateboarders combined with non-skating community members.


Hold meetings regularly attended by liaisons from their council or other community institutions

 

 

 

 

RELATED TO THIS SECTION

Advocacy - The Skatepark Advocate

Advocacy Misconceptions

Start A Petition - Prove That There Is A Need

Start A Facebook Page

Form A Skatepark Project Group

Hold A Meeting of Your Skatepark Group - discuss ideas

Write A Mission Statement

Contact A Reputable Concrete Skatepark Company for some designs of parks they've built

Create Awareness & Support For Your Project

Introduce Your Project To Your Local Council

Gain Council Support For Your Skatepark Project

 

 

 

  THE SKATEPARK FOUNDATION