The Skatepark Platform

The tone of your core group’s message is important. We know your group is pushing for a skatepark and how you talk about is is important. (See Advocacy Rules to refresh your memory.)How you describe the project is as important as the information you’re sharing.

For example, consider these two sentences that both say essentially the same thing. Which one sounds more confident?

“Skating is healthy.”

“Skateboarding is a physical activity that provides lots of health benefits such as lower obesity rates and improved academic performance.”

It’s important to be comfortable with your “benefits” banter.

Some people in your community will have a rebuttal for everything you say. They will distort your facts to seem like opinions, and present their opinions to seem like facts. The bottom line is that nobody in your community knows as much about skateboarding and skateparks as you do. You don’t need to have a snappy answer for everyone that challenges these claims. You simply need to reiterate the fundamental benefits of skateboarding and the skatepark.

“Skateparks will draw a range of ages, where they will recreate together as peers. What other recreational facility in our community shares this quality?”

“Skateboarding Is Popular”

In 2009 there were nearly 9.3-million skateboarders in the U.S.
9,281,500 casual skateboarders (once or more in the past year)
7,156,036 male casual skaters (77.1%)
2,125,463 female casual skaters (22.9%)

“Nearly a quarter of all skateboarders are female.”

2,589,538 core skateboarders (once or more times a week, on average) (27.8%)
2,159,675 male core skaters (83.4%)
429,836 female core skaters (16.6%)

“One out of every four skateboarders you see on the street ride their boards once or more per week, on average.”

3,712,600 of all skaters are between 6-12 years old (40%)

“More than a third of all skaters start in their preteen years.”

1,577,855 of all skaters are 25 years or older (17%)

“Many skaters continue to ride skateboards well into adulthood.”

The median age of all skateboarders is 14 years old

6—12 years old: 40%
13—17 years old: 30%
18—24 years old: 13%
25—24 years old: 8%
35—44 years old: 7%
45—54 years old: 1%
55+ years old: 1%

“Skateparks will draw a range of ages, where they will recreate together as peers. What other recreational facility in our community shares this quality?”

“This Skatepark Is A Good Investment”

Any investment is measured using the value it provides against its cost. The term “return on investment,” or ROI, is used to describe what your community gets for its money. The ROI on concrete skateparks is incredible, but to understand why, you will need to look at the full cost of the facility and compare it to the service that facility provides.

The most significant skatepark costs fall into two areas: the cost to create the facility, and the cost to maintain it. (There are other costs as well, such as the cost of removal, but those are not major considerations.)

The cost to create a skatepark is well-understood. The method for estimating a price, raising funds to meet those estimated costs, and refining the final cost are familiar to all communities. The other cost—the cost to maintain the park—is the biggest cause of concern for most communities.

It has been demonstrated that concrete skateparks require very little maintenance. Routine maintenance, like emptying trash cans, is all that’s required of most skateparks. Professionally designed and built skateparks will provide years of support without any significant attention. The oldest standing skateparks in the United States, built in the 1970s, are still operational today—even after 40 years—without any significant refurbishment.

The value that the skatepark brings to the community is also incredible. Skateparks are often cited as a Parks Department’s most-used facility. A trip to any concrete skatepark will show you a facility that is being used and enjoyed while adjacent fields lay empty. It’s incredibly rare to find a concrete skatepark anywhere in the nation that is empty on any given afternoon.

At capacity, a 10,000 square foot facility can comfortably accommodate the needs of about 60 simultaneous users. The facility will be used daily, weather permitting, with skateboarders coming and going throughout the day. If the skatepark receives 80 visitors per day, or 560 visits a week, that facility gets (on average) 29,120 visits per year. Over 5 years, that facility will have gotten about 145,600 visits… solely for the cost of construction. (With no significant maintenance expense.)

“There is no other public attraction that can boast the same return on investment as a concrete skatepark.”

“Many Parks administrators cite the local skatepark as their most popular, well-attended facility.”

Skateparks can help revitalize struggling urban neighborhoods by bringing healthy human activity to an area. The skating activity can help displace other undesirable activity such as transiency, drug use, and prostitution by being unwanted public eyes in the area. Skateparks should never be used as a mechanism for policing a neighborhood, but in conjunction with police and neighborhood support, a skatepark can be a powerful revitalization tool.

“Skateparks have been known to help turn blighted urban neighborhoods into vibrant business districts.”

Both Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon and Marginal Way Skatepark in Seattle, Washington (among others) are understood to have played pivotal roles in the improved health of the surrounding neighborhood.

Skateboarding Is Good For Youth

Studies show that active teens perform better in school, are physically healthier, and are less at-risk of engaging in criminal activity, having an unplanned pregnancy, or developing drug addition. (Center for Disease Control, Health & Academics (multiple sources); Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System)

Q: “What do you call an overweight skateboarder?”
A: “A beginner.”

Students that do better on physical fitness tests perform up to 30% better academically than their less-fit peers. (American College of Sports Medicine)

“Activities like skateboarding not only improve physical health, but are shown to improve academic performance and reduce at-risk factors in American youth.”

The skatepark bestows community benefits beyond physical activity. Skateboarders build friendships and a kind of micro-community with other skaters from the area at the skatepark. This community will encourage and support its members. Many of these friendships will last for years, or even decades. (Many adult skateboarders can claim a whole cadre of close friends that were first met through skateboarding.)

“Many skateboarders consider their fellow skaters as a kind of extended family.”

The diversity of skatepark communities introduces younger skaters to adults as respected peers, and can provide a social support network where school and family may not be adequate.

“Skateparks in or near areas where gangs are active can serve as a neutral place where people come together for their mutual interest in skateboarding.”

“This Skatepark Will Help Get Kids Off The Street”

Most deaths involving a skateboard occur in the street. According to a study performed by Skaters for Public Skateparks, in 2011 there were 42 skateboarding-related deaths in the United States. Of those, only 1 occurred in a skatepark. 30 of them involved a motor vehicle. This demonstrates that getting kids off the street and into a skatepark is an issue of public safety. It’s important to note that in most of these cases the victim was not “stunt skating” or being reckless in any way.

Statistically, in 2011 those numbers look like this:

  • 42 deaths
  • Of 42 skateboarding-related deaths, all but one (97.6%) occurred in areas not sanctioned for skating.
  • Of 42 skateboarding-related deaths, 30 (71.4%) involved a motor vehicle.
  • Average age of all skateboarding-related deaths: 18 years

“Skateboarders need skateparks just like baseball players need fields.”

As an issue of public safety, any community that is concerned about the well-being of its youth will see that a skatepark can play an important role in getting kids in appropriate, safe places to skate. Granted, the skatepark won’t pull every skateboarder off of the street and into the park; some will still use their skateboards for transportation—going to the corner store, to school, a friend’s house, and so on—but it’s an important start.

“This Skatepark Is Inevitable”

This is not a data-based claim. This is a tonal approach that you will use to inform how you talk about the new skatepark.

The skatepark is going to happen. It may not happen immediately, and it may not happen with your audience’s support, but it WILL happen. It is critical that you sincerely believe this because that conviction will come through whenever you talk about the skatepark. Using inevitable language removes the option of “if” and gets right to the heart of the matter with “how.”

In fact, the more assertive and confident you are in your claims, the less questions you will have about the skatepark.

Here are a few examples of inevitable language:

This is okay:
“We should build a skatepark to provide a positive place for kids to go.”

This is better:
“This skatepark will provide a positive place for kids to go.”

This is okay:
“We believe the skatepark will provide a positive place for kids to go.”

This is better:
“The skatepark will provide a positive place for kids to go.”

This is okay:
“City Park is probably the best place to think about putting a skatepark.”

This is better:
“City Park is the best place for the skatepark.”