Youth rally for skateparks in their towns, where they can gather and share their sport.
24 August 2015(Vista, CA) — The evidence is clear—youth need more recreational opportunities, as the number of overweight and obese youth has more than tripled since 1980 (cdc.gov). Efforts to tinker with school-lunch programs and access to organized sports leagues have had limited impact. In recent years many youth have taken it upon themselves to create their own active spaces. In particular, skateboarders have rallied their communities to support building public skateparks, and they’ve turned to the Tony Hawk Foundation to help them achieve their goals.
Since 2002, the Foundation has been assisting community groups and public officials to navigate the process of creating free, quality public skateparks. With advocacy training and a grant program that helps pay for construction of the skateparks, the Foundation has assisted nearly 2,000 skatepark projects, and helped fund 569 in all 50 States. These are spaces that not only give youth a place to gather and form friendships, but also encourages them to be active.
The process of creating a public skatepark typically begins with one skater sharing the idea with another, and the concept quickly gains traction among their peers. They rally support from their parents and mentors, and the project grows from there. Eventually they present their needs directly to local government and the general public, overcoming each obstacle as it is encountered. For many projects, the process also includes a call to THF for guidance and assistance.
“Skateboarders have always been a part of the larger community, but in some places, the community is making it clear that skateboarders aren’t welcome there,” says THF Programs Director Peter Whitley. “We think it is a testament to the creativity and passion of these kids to get involved and represent themselves. Where else do you see that?”
The integral role of youth in the skatepark process—not just in the initial phases, but throughout the planning, promotion, and fundraising—is unique. It also instills a sense of ownership in the eventual skatepark that the youth will enjoy and respect. Such are the projects that THF endorses, and in some cases helps fund through its Grants Program.
Ten communities in eight States are the latest recipients of Tony Hawk Foundation Skatepark Grants. These projects span urban to very rural communities; from massive regional skateparks to smaller neighborhood skate spots. Meeting this month to review grant applications, the THF Board of Directors were drawn to one project in particular.
The 30,000-square-foot McIntire Skatepark in Charlottesville, Virginia will replace a dilapidated temporary wooden skatepark, and is designed to meet the needs of all local skaters—from bowl riders to street skaters. Rather than repair the original skatepark, skaters and their supporters pushed for a permanent solution that will meet their needs for decades to come, and were successful in articulating their vision and securing the support of their local leadership.
“We are excited to get behind projects like Charlottesville,” says Tony Hawk. “They are not only creating ambitious skateparks, but also integrating the facilities—and the skaters themselves—into the community.”
Across the U.S., skaters are organizing sophisticated and informed coalitions to express their need for safe places to skate. And for more than a decade the Tony Hawk Foundation has been guiding them through the sometimes difficult process of promoting their ideas and attracting the support they need to accomplish their goals.
Below are the latest communities to join the hundreds that have received both technical and financial assistance from THF. Each project is a unique response to the universal need for safe places to skate, and each will result in a facility that will be a point of pride in its respective community.
Summer 2015 THF Skatepark Grant Recipients
Charlottesville, Virginia – $25,000
Arvin, California – $15,000
San Diego, California – $10,000
Stevensville, Montana – $10,000
Niagara Falls, New York – $10,000
Houston, Texas – $10,000
Chiloquin, Washington – $10,000
Goleta, California – $5,000
Cassopolis, Michigan – $5,000
Kansas City, Missouri – $5,000
For more information about the Tony Hawk Foundation, including its Skatepark Grants Program, visit www.tonyhawkfoundation.org. To get started on a public-skatepark project of your own, visit www.publicskateparkguide.org.
Tony Hawk Foundation
A charitable, non-profit organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation was established in 2002 by its namesake, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. THF promotes and provides technical assistance and funds for high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas throughout the United States that promote healthy, active lifestyles, and to International programs that enrich the lives of youth through skateboarding.
Domestically, the Foundation’s Skatepark Grant program has awarded over $5.4-million to 569 communities in all 50 states. The Foundation focuses on working with local officials and grassroots, community-based organizations that plan to hire designers and contractors with strong experience designing and building skateparks.
The Foundation’s International Program has provided technical support and awarded $100,000 to assist youth through the Skateistan educational programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa (www.skateistan.org).
The Tony Hawk Foundation was established by a gift from Tony Hawk. Its directors raise additional funds through events, industry donations, and continuing contributions from Tony and other entities. For more information or to make a donation, visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.tonyhawkfoundation.org. You can also visit THF on facebook and Instagram @tonyhawkfoundation, and on Twitter @THF.