In this brief paper I will outline how the Summer at the Skatepark based in Castlegar, British Columbia has increased participation since its inception in 2011.
We found participation is increased based on the following:
Setting clear goals
1. Providing free skateboarding instruction through July and August at the Castlegar Rotary Skatepark.
2. Providing free quality skateboard equipment including boards, helmets and safety gear.
3. Employing local accredited skateboard instructors.
4. Promoting skateboarding as a healthy past time.
5. Encouraging all ages/sexes to participate.
Deploying the program through a credible organization is paramount. Kootenay Family Place (KFP) is a 40 year old organization that focuses on connecting with children, youth and families. Showing that the program is coming from a place of service to others is important.
West Kootenay families value a program that is supported by well known organizations. British Columbia Gaming, Castlegar and District Recreation Department, Columbia Basin Trust and City of Castlegar. Finding partnerships with organizations is really to key to long term success, and thus year over year participation.
● Agencies, communities groups and local district schools were contacted via email to be reminded of the summer program.
● Daily activities/times/events were promoted through our Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/summerattheskatepark + https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheCastlegarSkatepark
● Creating content through Youtube
● Connecting with local newspapers / reporters to reach an audience who may not be connected online.
● Developing public service announcements through local radio stations.
● Radio interviews focus on specific aspects of the program.
● Contacting skateboarding websites/groups increased awareness which in turn created content for others to discover when looking up summer skateboarding instruction.
The program we developed employs individuals who have a good attitude about skateboarding. Individuals who are able to communicate with parents, grandparents, and caregivers about their child’s success are invaluable. Although not paramount, through experience participants identify with instructors who are able to competently perform the skills they are teaching.
The Drop In Curriculum has been invaluable in coaching skateboarding. Building on the basic skateboarding skills each day gives participants a sense of where they are at and where they want to get with their skateboarding. Parents and caregivers respond as they see the program has a direction, and if skills are not achieved during the session they can then be developed at the park on their own.
Running the program daily with no registration, other than signing a waiver, has provided a flexibility which parents enjoy. During summer there are many activities families want to do. Knowing that we are going to be at the skatepark for two solid months brings us closer to their daily activity list.
Using quality equipment is one of the most crucial parts of the program. Kids love the Skull Skates boards and S-One Helmets and pads. Both companies have been 100% supportive of the program. Parents can see what modern skateboards function like and therefore build trust with allowing their child to learn the activity safely.
The Castlegar Rotary Skatepark celebrated its 10th year in 2013. This program is unique in the Kootenay’s and brings a great deal of positive attention to the community of Castlegar. We have had an excellent partnership with Castlegar and District Recreation Complex staff who will maintain the skate surface keeping it safe and clean for riding.
Spin Off Effects
Neighboring community skateparks in Nelson, Slocan, Kaslo and Nakusp are awesome free spaces to participate in skateboarding. Our program creates interest in these communities as well as gives kids confidence to go skate different terrain.
As more people are stoked on skateboarding local communities (Trail and Rossland) who are working towards getting a skatepark can show how much of a benefit the skatepark, and skateboarding are to people.
Economically skateboarding businesses see the upswing, and are more inclined to partner/promote the program through their networks.
Skateboarding is an amazing activity that if introduced safely can bring a lifelong satisfaction for all ages to enjoy. Keeping it on the radar of children, youth, and families is the key to continued support and participation during organized and free time.