Letter: In praise of skate parks

I am reaching out with open arms to thank you for bringing a skate park to our community. I am both a mom and a middle school teacher. I have seen firsthand how skateboarding can change lives. A skate park is such an important place in a community. It may not be the place for everyone, but it is everything to those who find their place there.

My 15-year-old daughter first picked up a board at the age of seven. She has long since outgrown our local playground, but will soon be driving herself to the skate park. On her skateboard, she has learned so many of life’s lessons. She has learned resiliency as she falls and gets back up again and falls and repeats. It takes time and dedication to hone your skills as a skateboarder. Bravery and confidence are also side effects of skateboarding. The skate park is full of math, physics and engineering – angles and equations, and skateboarding has its own complicated language. It’s fascinating!

Skateboarding also teaches awareness, not only of yourself and your own skill set, but of those around you. The unspoken rules of a skate park are learned and passed from skateboarder to skateboarder and are very mannerly. You must read others and be alert, even just to know when it’s your turn.

Advertisement

Related: Pressure to reject New Paltz skate garden continues

Building a skate park creates a community. We have met our favorite people from around the world at skate parks. Where else do you see such diversity, from preschoolers to young adults, enjoying a shared activity? At Majestic Park in Gardiner, my daughter’s excitement over skateboarding gave us a new family. She started the Majestic SK8 Crew, where the kids all helped each other learn and grow, with weekly sessions over the past five years. The skateboard community takes care of each other, and I’ve witnessed so much sharing, as older skateboarders pass down their skills to the next generation. We even have found the best babysitters at the skate park over the years!

I’ve seen, as a teacher, how skateboarding saves lives. Handing a kid a skateboard gives them something productive to do and learn. You don’t get in trouble when you’re out working on your ollie or your tre flip. Skateboarding is accessible to everyone and full of inclusivity and diversity. Your gender, race and socioeconomic background do not matter at the skate park. All are welcome!

Skateboarders take care of each other, but they also need to be taken care of. The years of stigmatizing skateboarders needs to end as we celebrate the creativity, brilliance and magic of what they can do with a piece of wood on wheels. Our community needs to take care of its youth, and not just the kids who play soccer, lacrosse and baseball.

This July, we will all watch skateboarders from around the world compete in Park and Street events for the first time at the Olympics in Tokyo. Skateboarding is making history! When our community’s children watch wide-eyed at the 12 US competitors, several still kids themselves, and dream of being like them someday, a skate park will show them their value and help them reach for those dreams. Following a dream often requires picking yourself up off the floor a few times, and who knows how to do that better than a bruised-kneed skateboarder?

Please invest in all of our children! Come watch them skate! See you at the skate park!

Georgia Weinmann
New Paltz

Post Your Thoughts