- Our organization goes to schools in our local area to teach children from 5-12 years how to skateboard. We take portable ramps, skateboards, and helmets for the children. We have three instructors and up to 20 children per class. We do three classes per school visit, and so far, this last term, we have taught well over 150 children the basics of skateboarding. We aim to teach well over 1000 children the basics by the end of the year.
Over the last year, we have had countless moments talking to parents and community members about the skate school we run after school. How positive has this been for our community, how many children are engaging with this activity, and how many didn't do any other physical activity before. The feedback was that these children had tried other sports but had found it was not suited or caused anxiety for children. Most parents would say that their children would become disengaged because of these things,
1. The structure or confinement due to rules or how the games were played.
2. The team aspects causing anxiety or making the child feel like they aren't good at it.
3. The competitive nature of the sport.
The skate school was also full, and we had heaps of interest from people with beginner children from other areas around the Coromandel. The travel meant that parents couldn't make it on time or their work lives; even if there was room, they couldn't attend. After considering all this feedback, we consulted parents and schools in our area to see if this would be an excellent avenue to take, as we could bring skateboarding to the children. The support was tremendous, and this program has been very successful. We have received multiple messages of thanks from parents and inquiries about what equipment they should get their children as they now want to take up this sport.
We are now going to three schools in the Coromandel area, Whenuakite School, Coromandel Area School, and Mercury Bay Area School. We have acquired 20 skateboards and helmets to break down accessibility to try this sport; we also take portable ramps, so no skate park is required. We do this at the schools during school time as an activity that breaks down the struggle for parents to make it to lessons.
We have three instructors, two of which have previously been teachers themselves, helping to relate, identify anxiety and alleviate this, making the lesson fun and low-stress for the participants. We ensure lessons are not competitive with minimal structure focusing on fun, safety, and inclusion. The feedback from teachers so far has been fantastic, as they are amazed at how engaged all the children are and how much they enjoy the lessons, often repetitively asking when we are coming back next. The school children have also commented on how they have never done this before and love our program. We have also been contacted by multiple parents thanking me, asking what they need for their children to do this sport.
We have made sure to follow the feedback we have had consciously. This has helped us to be able to keep children engaged and enthusiastic about our program. The whole bases of this program are to get children active, focusing on those who may not be involved in other sports. We are giving children an opportunity to try something that they may not otherwise get exposure to.
We have also framed this program to be a child centre. We ensure its sole purpose is to provide an enjoyable activity. We have had over 200 hundred Children engage with this program so far and are looking to give this to well over a thousand children before it finishes at the end of the year.
Skateboarding is not generally a mainstream activity that children get to experience. Being able to offer coaching is helping something that was not accessible or seen as too dangerous to be achievable for these children.
Skateboarding is a value-laden activity that provides multifaceted opportunities for development and growth. The physical side provides fine and gross motor skills with a significant focus on balance which helps massively with the lateralization of the brain. The cooperation between the right and left brain is essential for us to learn better, function more intelligently and become proficient in all things.
The other side of skateboarding is the mental strength you get from it. This activity doesn't come easy; you have to preserve to get good, and you have to have resilience and get back up when you fall to try again. All these things help with mental fortitude and an "I can do it" attitude which we believe is very important for today's youth. We have had such good feedback from those who have participated in this program as the children leave smiling and asking if we can come back tomorrow.
We have achieved our goal of offering this activity to those who may not otherwise be exposed to this activity. We are also ticking our goals of helping those who participate gain access to engaging in this after we have gone. So far, we have had five parents reach out and ask for advice about equipment and who to help the children learn to skateboard. This comes directly from the children who have gone home and told their parents they want to skateboard. This is one child per visit so far; these are just the parents who have reached out. We want a survey completed at the mid-way point to gauge interest and advice on improving our delivery and how we can further help children engage in their own time.
We have had such positive feedback from teachers also suggesting that the children ask and talk about skateboarding for days after we leave. Also, commenting on how some children they didn't think would enjoy it or often don't like physical activity engage so well. We are so happy with what we have achieved and look forward to bringing more positive energy to these schools. We see how well this is going so far and are very grateful to be able to provide this to our tamariki.
- Commitment to Youth Engagement