Back to Our (grass) Roots

John Hanson at our Otley Jam with a big Beni over the box.

John Hanson at our Otley Jam with a big Beni over the box.

Summer's here. No two words can be more soothing to a skateboarder in the UK. Events are kicking off most weekends, mates are back from uni for a shred, the weather is a touch less... wet (hopefully) and it's prime time to get a skate in with mates old and new.

For me, it's a time for competitions, demos, and hanging out with friends from around the world. It's also prime time for Sk8 Safe to get out there and get coaching some grassroots skateboarding to young people in communities across the UK, and in the North in particular.

A shot from a regular coaching session a few years back. We go back to these guys every year, and I'm really happy to say a lot of these guys are still skating. And ripping. 

A shot from a regular coaching session a few years back. We go back to these guys every year, and I'm really happy to say a lot of these guys are still skating. And ripping. 

Sk8 Safe have been out in the community since 2007, with the key aim of promoting equality and diversity through wheeled sports. We head out to young people in communities that may not have quite the same opportunities as their counterparts, and offer free skateboarding sessions with help from the council. All the gear is provided, including ramps if we happen to be coaching on a flat area of tarmac. Which is often the case. 

It's incredible to see the change in these young people once they've stood on a board. Kids with little confidence or self esteem get through their first few tricks and transform into bold, fearless shredders. Of course it doesn't happen quickly, but in a world where gratification is instant, giving young people something valuable to take away which requires hard work and dedication brings a sense of accomplishment which simply can't be achieved by looking at a screen all day. I know that sounds INCREDIBLY old fashioned, but I'm a real believer in getting young people out there engaging in new activities and hopefully finding a lifelong hobby and passion. I dread to think who I'd be if I'd never taken my first step on that horrendous Action Man board years ago.

"ACTION MAN THE GREATEST HERO OF THEM ALL". Not too sure about the new skool Action Man though. Looks like one of the Backstreet Boys...

"ACTION MAN THE GREATEST HERO OF THEM ALL". Not too sure about the new skool Action Man though. Looks like one of the Backstreet Boys...

Aside from coaching, summer is prime time for skate jams. I've got to say that I look forward to these events every year, whether they're held at my local or further afield. I dare say everyone else dreads them, as for three uninterrupted hours, I'm given a microphone. Bad idea.

These free community events are a highlight in the calendar of the skate park users and the wider community. We pack up the generator, PA System, prizes (LOADS of em) and a couple of Sk8 Safe crew and head to a local skate park for a day or sunshine, shredding and ultimately, a lot of litter picking. 

One of many throwout prize sessions at Ripon Skate Jam, 2017. I spot an unfair advantage somewhere in the crowd.

One of many throwout prize sessions at Ripon Skate Jam, 2017. I spot an unfair advantage somewhere in the crowd.

We host competitions throughout the day for skate, scoot and BMX for all ages and abilities. The whole purpose for the event is just to get young people involved. It doesn't matter if you're a park veteran or just starting out. The key here is inclusion, and everyone get a chance to take something home. There's prizes for best tricks, down to good etiquette or good community spirit. It's as much about inspiring newer riders to be good role models as it is about skill in your chosen discipline. 

Ben Goodbarn, Ripon regular. Always takes home a few prizes for the skate comp.

Ben Goodbarn, Ripon regular. Always takes home a few prizes for the skate comp.

There's often a few misconceptions about skate park culture, particularly within local communities. The Skate Jams aim to challenge these misconceptions, representing the skate park in a positive light through role model behavior from park users. This in turn promotes a positive and welcoming environment, in which new skaters taking their first tentative steps on a board feel a little more at ease. Skate Parks can be scary places for beginners...

Scooter contest winners at Ripon Skate Jam. You can say what you want about scooters, but it's accessible, inclusive, and at the moment it keeps skate parks open. 

Scooter contest winners at Ripon Skate Jam. You can say what you want about scooters, but it's accessible, inclusive, and at the moment it keeps skate parks open. 

We love summer here at Sk8 Safe. All two days of it. Keep an eye out on our Facebook, Insta and Twitter feeds for an event near you.

Denham Hill

Tied Up In Notts...

Nestled between Sheffield and Leicester lies the historic city of Nottingham. Of course, mention Nottingham and the mind conjures up images of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, of a simpler time when the rich were stolen from and the poor given a cheeky little percentage. Rather than the other way around.

Will Golding's deck on Unabomber. Nottingham shredder, was a pleasure to meet him on the course in Hull.

Will Golding's deck on Unabomber. Nottingham shredder, was a pleasure to meet him on the course in Hull.

But Nottingham is famous for so much more than the be-legging’ed hero. Loads of rad stuff has come out of Nottingham. The Flying Bedstead (google it), HP Sauce, traffic lights Torvill and Dean, Ibuprofen, and apparently the oldest pub in Britain. Sleaford Mods also hail from Nottingham, and observant readers may recognise the title of this post as one of their signature tunes.

As a skater, I’m fairly thankful for Ibuprofen. The Flying Bedstead sounded like fun, but after checking it out on google it looks fairly dangerous and isn’t anything like what I expected. Imagine a drone, but it’s massive and looks to be made from metal.

The Flying Bedstead. I didn't want to ruin the surprise but... good grief. 

The Flying Bedstead. I didn't want to ruin the surprise but... good grief. 

Nottingham also has a skate scene to rival many in the UK. A strong DIY ethic has led to pop up spots throughout the city, and the emergence of music venues preserving the very core of punk and alternative music. It’s this DIY ethic that defines skateboarding, and Nottingham seems to be leading the way.

I was excited to take the trip down there to deliver the Level 1 Award to 9 skaters from around the City, with the possibility of a second course in the future. The 9 places, funded by the Renewal Trust, show that councils are starting to see the value of skateboarding as an alternative physical activity, lacking in discrimination and the usual barriers associated with the traditional sports offered in schools. There are also whispers that the Wellcome Trust are keen to support ongoing impact research, which will help Nottingham’s case massively.

a shot courtesy of Skate Nottingham at King Eddie's, a fairly new addition to Nottingham's skate map

a shot courtesy of Skate Nottingham at King Eddie's, a fairly new addition to Nottingham's skate map

Among the newly accredited coaches was Chris Lawton, a passionate skater and also main feature writer for Caught in the Crossfire. If you’re one of few who happen to be unfamiliar with Caught in the Crossfire, then get to know. It’s a great way to arm yourself with knowledge on topics hot in the skate scene, not only in the UK but further afield. Keep an eye on em for upcoming developments in Nottingham, there’s exciting things ahead. Hit the libnk at the bottom of this page. Of course, it was only appropriate we got a few words from Chris on the Level 1 Award and what this means for Nottingham:

“The strength of skateboarding in Nottingham, one of the centres for UK skating since at least the 1990s, has been as much due to the people as the skateparks and street spots.  Nottingham has a strong scene primarily because several generations of people are so active in their skating, and in their production of related art, music and photography.

Valley Road Skate park in Notts, courtesy of Level Forty Two.

Valley Road Skate park in Notts, courtesy of Level Forty Two.

The Level 1 Award is an opportunity to start investing in these people, valuing their time, commitment and skillset, and to start building the foundations for future generations to establish good, fulfilling employment and volunteering opportunities in skating without needing to leave the city.  This in turn will help us demonstrate to the City Council that their investment in places that support skating, both purpose-built skateparks and public realm like Sneinton Market, can have significant and sustained positive impacts – including increased physical activity, health and wellbeing amongst children and young people who are engaged by the skate tuition we are now able to provide, and in wider economic, social and civic benefits, including increased graduate retention, business and social enterprise start-ups, and authentic and collective activation of parts of the city.

Together this helps create a vibrant, energetic and youthful urban area that will continue to attract, retain and develop future generations living, studying and working in the city.”

Team Nottingham. Cheers guys, was great to meet you all. 

Team Nottingham. Cheers guys, was great to meet you all. 

We hope to see great things come from Nottingham. With such a supportive and active scene, it’s a great place for young skaters to be introduced to our lifestyle and our passion, and to gain a positive influence that can last a lifetime.  

It was a real pleasure to meet the guys in Nottingham. I’m jealous of what they’ve got going on down there.

-Denham Hill

http://www.caughtinthecrossfire.com/

Hull: City of Culture (and Skateboarding?) part 2

So in our previous post, we were discussing the exciting announcement that Hull will become a Skateboard-Friendly City.  Hull could become an international hotspot for skateboarders, sitting a bit closer to our doorstep than Barca which is ace. And, if you're a typical pasty skinned Brit, you needn't worry about taking your factor 50 with you either. Result.

We caught up with Paul Regan, after training his team of coaches in Hull to get a bit more info. As a familiar face on the UK scene, he's been spearheading the campaign to turn Hull into a skateboarding Mecca. Let's explore. 

Eyup Paul! So, give us a bit of an introduction. You’re well known to the UK scene but introduce yourself to those who may not be as familiar. When you started skating, why, e.t.c

Hey mate, Okay so Paul Regan, and been Skateboarding for the past 16 years, started 2 months before my 13th birthday. I got into Skateboarding from my mates who had the Tony Hawk pro skater game and a Skateboard, I had a go on both and was hooked ever since! 

You’ve been delivering skateboard coaching sessions for a good few years now. Tell us a bit more about what you do.

I started out delivering coaching sessions in 2008 where I was a freelance coach if you like working with different Skate schools around the country for a year, I decided I wanted to do something myself and run sessions in the local Schools, skate parks and work with the councils in Hull & East Yorkshire, so I set up 'Active' in 2010. 

We are now the No.1 provider for skateboarding sessions and Action sports in Hull & East Yorkshire alongside providing, skate jams, events and sessions around the UK. Check our site for more information: - http://activeskateboarding.co.uk 

Hull’s had a thriving scene for quite some time now. Why was the decision made to make Hull the UK’s most skate-friendly city? As a Leeds lad myself, let’s face it: It’s Grim Up North. Tell us a bit more about the project.

It certainly is! Well Hull has always been great for its skate able architecture, if you don't know, now you know! We have one of the best indoor parks in the country (Rockcity), An amazing new our door plaza which is one of the best in Yorkshire at the moment, alongside 10 skate parks with in Hulls city limits, and at least another 12 in the Hull district and surrounding areas. We have one of the best British pros to ever grace the UK (Scott Palmer) also other bits of the puzzle which made this happen such as Active being based in Hull and myself too, being I represent Skateboard England as a director and board member, which helped to sway this decision with the council. 

So we had a good mix of why it is a good idea for Hull to be pushed as the UK city of Skateboarding. 

The project is basically to make Hull Skateboard friendly, so we will have built in skate able obstacles and furniture such as ledges, banks, rails and the like to be able to use, as well as Skateboarding being fully legal with in in cities limits as long as it is council property. This has come of the back of Hull becoming the city of culture and they're wanting this to be part of the legacy project they are running after 2017. Skateboarding has been a big part of the culture in Hull for many a year, so they want to embrace skateboarding as part of their 'Urban' culture and promote it in a positive light. 

The idea is to work with the council together helping to design skate able objects, give guidance and help with getting better Skate parks in the city. 

Of course there’s been the announcement that we’re heading to the Olympics, we’ve got a skate friendly city in the UK, an NGB and an Accredited Coaching Qualification. There’s lots happening both in the UK and overseas. How do you see the future of Skateboarding?

I see the future of Skateboarding being really good. It has become more main stream which has made it become more accepted, which means more kids, young people and adults alike will be Skateboarding. For me that is only a positive, however from being I guess a 'core' skateboarder myself over the years I can see why Skateboarding being underground is also favourable, however I'm open to most things and do not judge, as long as I can skate and enjoy it, and other people can do the same then i'm all for it. That being said the same goes with the Olympics, I can see why it isn't sitting well with Skateboarders, alike it is not for me but, I don't mind it as it isn't hurting me so to speak, and it will only get more people involved with Skateboarding, which again is a good thing.

our regulars after a day of coaching

our regulars after a day of coaching

Cheers Paul!

Can't wait to see this project come to fruition. Let's hope Hull and the North in general can establish itself on the international skaters map.

-Denham Hill

 

Hull: City of Culture (and Skateboarding?) Part 1:

Ahh The Deep, an icon of Hull's cityscape. As a fish fancier, this is a favourite stop off before getting a skate in. 

Ahh The Deep, an icon of Hull's cityscape. As a fish fancier, this is a favourite stop off before getting a skate in. 

We get around a fair bit. Usually, prepping for a course requires gathering all relevant materials, followed by what's normally a 4 hour drive or thereabouts. Then, traffic turns it into 6. Then 7. Then the way home is usually even longer. 

So, it was quite a leisurely trip when we headed over to Hull to deliver the Level 1 Award at RockCity, to 10 skaters, including mainstay of the UK scene, Paul Regan, who sits on the board of directors for Skateboard England. 

A section of RockCity Skatepark, its current incarnation under construction some time back. RockCity has been serving the skaters of Hull since 1994

A section of RockCity Skatepark, its current incarnation under construction some time back. RockCity has been serving the skaters of Hull since 1994

Most of the guys had quite a wealth of experience in skateboard coaching, and were looking to upskill and gain the vital credibility that the Level 1 Award brings. Once again, we had a full house of passes, and some great feedback from the course, scoring 96.2%. Of course, we also got a good skate in. I apologised profusely for keeping the guys locked indoors on what was the nicest weekend of the year, but I'm sure they all forgave me after getting their qualification at the end of the two days.

Hull's first accredited Skateboard Coaches. Once again, another incredibly passionate and dedicated group of skaters.

Hull's first accredited Skateboard Coaches. Once again, another incredibly passionate and dedicated group of skaters.

We also know Hull due to it's status as City of Culture 2017, and award given every 4 years to cities that "demonstrate the belief in the transformational power of culture." Throughout the year, the unique character of the city will be celebrated through arts and cultural programmes.

Hull is also home to many iconic spots, both for tourists and otherwise. It also has an absolutely mint maritime museum. I don't know this from experience...

No of course not. Why, I'd never step foot in a museum, that's lame... Honestly.

Hull Maritime Museum. I've never been. Honestly. 

Hull Maritime Museum. I've never been. Honestly. 

This is all lovely, but what does that mean for us as skaters? One other reason Hull is in the spotlight, is it has been announced that the city will become the UK's most Skateboard Friendly City. This is good news, and is to act as a lasting impact of Hull's status as City of Culture. The hope is that skaters will be attracted from around the world to this international skate friendly hotspot.

Imagine Barca, but with fish and chips, less sun, and less street performers.

Best way to re-fuel after a heavy sesh. Couldn't get this in Barca...

Best way to re-fuel after a heavy sesh. Couldn't get this in Barca...

une in next week for part two, when we'll be chatting to Paul Regan about how this came about and what it means to skaters here in the UK. Things aren't looking so grim up North, after all.

-Denham Hill

To Train or Not to Train...

...That is the question... whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes and yeah you see what we're getting at here. Not going to go all Bill Shakespeare on you. Forgive me for trying to offer you a bit of culture...

I remember when I first learned to skate. I learned in the way many kids did; I Showed up at the skate park, board in hand, I got bullied into trying stuff and mercilessly browbeaten for being far from rad on a board.

my Local, in it's current form. I dread to think how many hours I've spent here.

my Local, in it's current form. I dread to think how many hours I've spent here.

This didn't discourage me though. I persevered, grew a massive chip on my shoulder and went on a mission to prove myself to the naysayers. Ultimately, I earned the respect of my peers, and became a better skater.

 I skated because I loved it and constantly wanted to progress. Little has changed now but I can say, for me at least, that initial baptism of fire worked. As time goes by, the once legendary park veterans become friends, and ultimately more human. Only then may you crack on and get a skate in.

 But remember where you came from and that they developed you. Seriously remember it, because if you don’t they’ll constantly remind you of it, which has been my life for the last 10 years.

Anyways, to quote another famous wordsmith; "times, they are a-changing". Kids are brought up differently now, even if you just go back 5 years or to the few years below you at school. There's a bit more padding to the outside world now than in previous years.

Young people perhaps don't learn the same way as I, or generations of skaters before me, did. The world is now focused on social media, which, despite its many merits, can hinder a young person's confidence and inter-personal skills, as relationships are formed with virtual entities with no huge need for face to face interaction. The art of conversation is partly lost or at least takes a much different format. Marching up to and meeting another young person could be rather daunting - as with any new endeavor. 

The skateboarding world too, in so many aspects, has gone through seismic changes. From styles to tricks to developments in the materials used in skateboarding we now take entirely for granted. Gone are the days of exploding clay wheels and obscenely bad Day-Glo headbands and other poor fashion choices a little later on. Although some habits die hard...... spending years of crying and sweating in to my tube socks has them walking out of the draw on their own.

Strange and confusing times.

Strange and confusing times.

Skateboarding now has infrastructure. The national governing body, Skateboard England, are working developing the future of skateboarding, keeping it in the hands of skaters. People like you and me.

Skateboard England have a fundamental requirement to create a coaching pathway that offers a credible, structured evaluation of coaches to ensure the highest standards in the UK. That's where Sk8 Safe come in. We partnered with Skateboard England to create the first accredited qualification of its kind in the world, the Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions Qualification. 

However, this has created a bone of contention among many skateboarders in the UK - Not all, many are in favour and many of those with initial anxieties about the course have now come on board once they understood the bigger picture. Yet, there’s still a great deal of scepticism around this new concept. Why is that? Let’s explore.

Skateboarders are very protective of skateboarding. I know this well, because I am a skateboarder.  There’s a fear that somehow this will institutionalise skateboarding, take it out of skateboarder’s hands and turn skateboarding into another one of those dreaded school activities which drove us over to skateboarding in the first place.

Ace campaign from Burlington, NJ. I'm sure we're all acutely aware of the life we could have ended up living without skateboarding...

Ace campaign from Burlington, NJ. I'm sure we're all acutely aware of the life we could have ended up living without skateboarding...

There’s the fear that bigger companies will take hold of skateboarding, turn it into a cash cow and ruin its integrity.

 There’s the concern that skateboarding will become too “mainstream” or too professional. As a skater, I understand these concerns. The key aim of this course is to get more young people skateboarding. Nothing else. It’s not about money, it’s not about turning skateboarding into a “soccer mom” sport. It’s about getting more kids on Skateboards and introducing them to a pastime that has brought us all so much joy and such a sense of community.

I deliver the courses across the country. Why? Because I’m a skater and that’s how it should be. I wouldn’t want to listen to a generic sports coach tell me about My lifestyle and My pastime. I’d want to be taught by someone current and relatable, someone who gets skateboarding. The key throughout the course is to offer kids the opportunity to skate. In particular, those who may not get the opportunity otherwise.

The course doesn’t aim to make skateboarding mainstream and, as long as it stays in the hands of skaters, it never will be mainstream.

Large companies already have a hold of skateboarding in a pretty big way but you can’t blame the course for that. In fact, without the influence of larger skate brands such as Santa Cruz, Vans, Plan B and a myriad of others too numerous to mention, it’s without doubt that skateboarding worldwide would not be in the position it is in today. However, it’s understandable that many skaters turned their back on those companies that just became too big, and there’s the resurgence of small independent skate companies aiming to take skateboarding back to its roots. This aspect will never die.

You can’t blame a national governing body or coaching course for institutionalising or monopolising skateboarding. But perhaps some of this blame could lie with the brand of shoes you’re wearing at the moment…

Why do we even need it, what’s the point? That’s a question I get fairly often. Almost as often as “why is your board so small?” Well, the answer here isn’t particularly black and white. Of course, there have been skaters up and down the country working as Skate Coaches for many years, with no problems whatsoever.

It's never going to be another traditional school activity. But this series was pretty funny. 

It's never going to be another traditional school activity. But this series was pretty funny. 

The whole point of the Level 1 Award is it provides vital credibility and professionalism to old and new coaches. We’re not talking about t-shirt-tucked-in-to-gym-shorts-and-a-whistle-round-your-neck professionalism, we’re talking about consistency, safe practice, and ensuring that all young people in a session are catered for. Whatever their needs.

 The course focuses on how to reach young people and involve everyone, giving everybody the opportunity to skate. It’s important to have those things in place when coaching anyone. This isn’t us telling you how to do your job. In fact, we hope we can all pick up new techniques from each other. Let’s go with a quick hypothetical:

Coach: “Hi there, I’d like to teach your year 5s how to play hockey”

Headteacher: “Ahh fantastic! Do you have any relevant qualifications?”

Coach: “Naaah, don’t need any of that. But I’m really good at it”

Headteacher: “…Okay. Well, do you have a Safeguarding Certificate?

Coach: “Nah don’t need that.”

Headteacher: “Right. Are you first aid trained?”

Coach: “Nah”

Headteacher: “DBS Checked?”

Coach: “Yeah I go to my dentists once a month”

You see, the course ensures professionalism. Most importantly, to you the coach it will break down resistance to non-mainstream activities in schools and communities, while also keeping the young people you are coaching safe. The word “Headteacher” in the previous example could eaily be replaced with “Community Liaison Officer” or “Youth Worker”. Answer “yes” to the above questions and you’re in.  Surely, that’s not a bad thing.

Can’t they just go and learn at a skate park? Skateboarding’s about discovery, let them crack on! Yeah, skateboarding is completely about discovery. Couldn’t agree more. So let’s just take a minute to think about the kinds of young people who gravitate towards skateboarding. Many may not engage with the traditional sports offered in schools. Some may be lacking confidence or social skills and have previously negative classroom experiences.

Young people from this background might really struggle to get out on to a skate park, by themselves, and start skating, even if every fibre in their body tells them this is what they want to do. It can be hard getting out there and facing adversity and, unfortunately, many young people accept defeat very quickly and give up.

Then why not offer a safe and positive entry point for those who would struggle otherwise? If it gets more young people into skateboarding, and reaches out to those who may not skate due to issues with their confidence and self-esteem, what’s the problem? On the subject of skateboarding being all about the DIY spirit, individual progression and creativity, of course it is and the course doesn’t aim to change that. What it does aim to do is build a young person’s confidence and provide them with a solid foundation. The rest is up to them…

Hull's newest accredited coaches. Always great to get such a good turn out. 

Hull's newest accredited coaches. Always great to get such a good turn out. 

Overall, the feedback from the course has been overwhelmingly positive, with experienced skaters and coaches alike all taking something valuable away to use in their own practices. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just trying to bring more professionalism to skateboarding in a way which benefits existing coaches and increases participation in skateboarding.

Getting more kids on boards and involved in a community which has given us so much surely can’t be a bad thing. If we can reach out to some of those kids who otherwise might have neither the confidence nor the means to step on a skateboard, mission accomplished.

But, don’t just take my word for it. Book onto a course and see for yourself. Future generations of skaters will thank you for it.

Denham Hill

 

Exist Paves the Way for Skateboard Coaching in Wales

On the 14th and 15th of March, Coach Educator and Assessor Denham Hill took the long drive down to South Wales, to deliver the Level 1 Award to a new line of Skateboard Coaches at Exist Skatepark.

Swansea has a bit of a history in Skateboarding, and a thriving scene spearheaded by some of the most passionate skaters the UK has to offer. From the heady days at the Morfa ramp to present sessions at Exist, skateboarding is ever present and growing in the city. More so now than ever before, as Wales now has it’s first accredited and qualified Skateboard Sessions Coaches.

Exist, sustaining Swansea's Skate Scene since 2011

Exist, sustaining Swansea's Skate Scene since 2011

Opening in 2011, Exist provided the only indoor skateboarding provision for skaters in the area, sustaining the scene and enabling it to grow. You could tell by the turn out on what actually a fairly nice day outside, that the park creates an environment where everyone is welcome, run by skaters and for skaters.

7 Skaters from around Swansea came out to take the course, ranging from those coaching for several years, to absolute beginners keen to inspire more young skaters. With a score of 95.8% positive feedback, it’s clear that both experienced coaches and newbies alike were able to take something valuable from the two days.

Let’s hope we get a few more courses booked in Wales! Cheers Exist, was ace to meet you all!

Check Exist out on Facebook HERE, and drop in and pay them a visit. we're sure you'll be made to feel very welcome.

Otley Skate Park: 17 Years in the Making

The Otley skatepark has become a staple of Wharfe Meadows Park in the historic town of Otley,  West Yorkshire. It attracts users of all ages and backgrounds, from youngsters on family days out to long terms park regulars, some of which have used the park since its installation way back in 1999.

 

Initially a Space to Grow project from Leeds City Council, and spearheaded by Otley Grandmother Betty Bevan, the park was installed to give youngsters a vital hub of youth culture, as previously, there was very little for young people to do in the town that would keep them active and give them the opportunity to make friends and develop their skills.

But of course, no exciting new youth project is without teething pains…

 

In its earliest incarnation, the park was daubed in graffiti, vandalised, and became a hub for anti-social behaviour, the polar opposite of the park’s intended purpose. Many long term users will remember the “hut”, which served as a shelter from the rain for users, but as a sheltered area to drink and take drugs for vandals and non-users. Every weekend, the keen park user would be wise enough to carry a broom to the park, to sweep up smashed bottles and other debris left over from the night before. Police call outs were common, and users gradually declined as the equipment, despite valiant efforts from the local council, became outdated. Many will fondly remember the old halfpipe, because, as the phrase went “if you can drop in on that, you can drop in on anything.”

Some years later, around 2008, after consultations with the council, Otley went through it’s first major refit. All the old equipment was removed, the “hut” demolished, and two brand new courses (a spine section and street section) along with two new grind rails and a ledge were erected.

 

Anti-social behaviour declined, and the Skate Park community began to grow, with an influx of users due to the updated equipment. Sk8 Safe first got involved with Otley Skate Park in the summer of 2014, and quickly set to work establishing a strong community of local users. Sarah Agar-Brennan then formed the Otley Skate Park User Group as a means of connecting with young people and establishing what users want from their park, whether that be new equipment or more support from the local community to ensure safe use of the park. Otley’s high number of visitors and growing population required the park to be updated to cater for all rider’s needs. After much hard work and dedication, along with careful guidance from the Sk8 Safe team, The Otley Skate Park User Group secured £10,000 of funding through the Voice Your Choice scheme. This paid for a new quarter pipe, fly off ramp and manual pad, as well as essential maintenance work.

 

With another successful skate jam this summer, the Otley Skate Park continues to gofrom strength to strength, and the community around it continues to flourish. With a plan to campaign for more funding this year, this can only mean a wider community for the park, and a new generation of users, leaving a legacy for those newly inducted into wheeled sports. Click HERE to see a few clips from Otley Skate Jam 2016!

Absolute Board Co and Better Extreme Have Their First Accredited Coaches

penny.jpg

Arictle originally published June 2016

On the 12th of June, Sk8 Safe loaded up the van and began on a journey to deliver a week of skateboard coach training, starting in Hampshire and finishing in London, and of course, stopping at a few skateparks on route!

The team arrived at Absolute Board Co headquarters on the 13th to deliver the Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions Qualification to the Penny Skateboards team. Penny have a reputation for getting young people on boards, and for making the sport accessible to all. Penny boards are fun, versatile, and serve as a great entry point into skateboarding for beginners, which ties in perfectly with the Level 1 Award as a means of participation rather than performance.

The Sk8 Safe team trained their first international coaches, with four learners all the way from Germany passing through the course and going on to spread skateboarding far and

wide. There were also coaches from some of the most highly regarded skateboarding schools in the UK. Don’t Rain and Skates and Ladders both had their team pass through the course, giving them the credibility that skateboard coaches so desperately need to gain bookings from other external organisations, and to establish themselves on a level playing field with other sports coaches.

With 89.5% positive feedback, it’s clear that the new coaches have all been able to take something valuable away from the course.

Penny Skateboards will be delivering their own taster sessions to get young people on skateboards and introduced to what can be a fun and rewarding hobby. Look out for taster sessions near you!

From Southampton, Sk8 Safe made their way over to Dagenham in the East end of London, to deliver the Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions to the team at Better Extreme Skatepark.

penny 2.jpg

Better Extreme is a fantastic facility, covering 900 square metres, it’s the largest indoor skatepark in London. There’s also a trampoline park and gym on site, giving local people of all backgrounds an opportunity to keep fit and active through alternative sports.

better extreme.jpg
 

The skatepark offers obstacles for skaters of all abilities, ranging from bowls, to street courses, to beginner’s mini ramps. The coaches at Better Extreme have a wealth of experience to share, and are seasoned coaches who were all excited to receive their first accredited qualification in skateboard coaching. 

Warren Stafford, one of the coaches at Better Extreme, had this to say about the course:
“The skate safe course was brilliant, it's given me a better and more refined skill set that I will go on to use in future coaching sessions. It’s a great thing to do if you're a skateboarder as it can open many doors to careers you didn't know where out there. Since doing the course I have been thinking of starting my own skate school to get people involved and skating. The tutors we had for the course where also great, they guided us in the right direction and made the course a good laugh instead of it being too serious. I recommend the course to anyone that maybe thinking about doing it."

Feedback from the team was hugely positive, with an average score of 95.5%. The Level 1 Award keeps going from strength to strength, with more coaches and organisations signing up to gain this essential qualification and progress their career.

Who knows where skateboarding will take you next?

Words by: Denham Hill

The World Roundup Freestyle Skateboarding Championships

OLYMPICPOST_v.1_1_.jpg

Article originally posted May 2016

On the 18th of May, Sk8 Safe’s lead coach and assessor, Denham Hill, flew out to Canada for the World Round-Up Freestyle Skateboarding Championships.

50 of the World’s top freestyle skateboarders, from 14 countries made the trip to take home their share of the $10,000 prize money in what was to be the biggest year for the Round-Up since the first event 5 years ago. The event was live streamed around the world, with local media crews stopping by to interview some of the contestants and organisers. There was a real buzz around the whole event, which acts not only as a competition but a celebration of the skateboarding community, and a reunion among friends from thousands of miles away.

The freestylers were joined by skateboarding legend Russ Howell, also a judge at the competition, and by legendary Bones Brigade members Kevin Harris and Per Welinder.

Preliminary rounds began on the 20th , leading to the semi-finals on the 21st and the finals on the 22nd. Leading up to the best trick contest, the spin-offs, best handstand trick, and the much coveted worst trick competition on the 23rd .

Representing the UK and sponsored by Moonshine SkateboardsDenham 
made it through to the final round, placing 20th overall in his first official pro competition.

Denham had this to say about his experience at the competition:

“The event is like nothing I’ve ever seen in freestyle skateboarding before. The turnout was massive and you’re greeted by friends from around the world who are all a part of the same global community. The crowd turnout was great too, people are genuinely really happy to watch you skate whether you’re a top competitor or not. The experience was fantastic, although a little nerve-wrecking, and one I definitely won’t be missing out on next year.”

school.jpg

Denham travels out to Germany on the 8th of July for the European Championships in Paderborn, then to the UK Round Up on the 16th of July.

Here’s a clip of the Worst Trick Competition, with Denham Hill and Tony Gale performing a human catamaran Hippy Jump. After all, skateboarding is about having fun!

A New Approach For Skateboarding

april 1.jpg

Article first published April 2016

April saw the launch of the very first Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions Qualification course, the first course of it’s kind in the UK, with Sk8 Safe as the first official assessment centre.

After months of hard work with 1st 4sport and the new National Governing Body for Skateboarding in the UK, Skateboard England, Sk8 Safe travelled to the Lodge Skatepark in Devon, to train the country’s first accredited and qualified skateboard coaches.

The new coaches came from all ages and backgrounds, some with years of experience on a skateboard, and others simply able to roll and perform basic tricks. However one thing all these new coaches had in common was a passion to engage more young people in skateboarding, and to deliver an exciting skateboarding session, inclusive of everyone.

The course was met with 93% positive feedback from those involved, and learners were inspired to get out in their community to introduce young people to skateboarding. From seasoned sports coaches to first time coaches, all felt they had learned something valuable from the course and were proud to be able to offer young people a fun alternative sport.

Mike Hawman, a regular user of the Lodge and newly accredited Skateboard Sessions Coach, had this to say about the course:


“The course for me was a real out of the box experience, i have always liked the idea of being inspirational to those who wanted to learn the skills I am passionate about and achieving this qualification has been a huge accomplishment for me. Now I have the necessary skills to be that inspiration.”

april 2.jpg

Later that month, Sk8 Safe would deliver their second course at 4Motion Skatepark in Darlington, to coaches from The Skateboard School in Sheffield, and Camp Rubicon, two very well respected coaching companies. After a visit from the 1st 4sport External Quality Assurer, and a visit from the Internal Quality Assurer, Sk8 Safe achieved a 100% pass on both accounts, a massive success and testament to the hard work and dedication of the team over the previous months.

Sk8 Safe continue to go strength to strength, and with more courses on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to become one of the next accredited skateboarding coaches, and inspire the next generation.

New Course Launched

Article first published March 2016

This month, Sk8 Safe are very proud to announce the launch of their brand  new Level 1 course!

Written in conjunction with 1st4sport, The Level 1 Award in Coaching Skateboard Sessions is a comprehensive 2 day course, designed to help aspiring coaches begin their journey into a career as a skateboarding sessions coach, with a genuine accredited qualification. Developed in partnership with the new National Governing Body for skateboarding, Skateboard England, Sk8 Safe are now the only official assessment centre in the UK.

New Milton Skatepark

new milton skatepark-u9394-fr.jpg

Nestled away on the edge of the New Forest is this gem of a Skate Park, newly built by Maverick Industries. The council and local stake holders worked tirelessly to fund raise and bring the skate park community together and they have excelled. Sk8 Safe were asked to train a group of key users on their Level 1 Skate Park Community Ambassadors course before it opened.

Sk8 Safe’s team of tutors and photographer received a warm welcome from the New Milton community. They all basked in the glorious sunshine for the pop comp and skate breaks which were well deserved as the young people worked hard to shape the future of their park.

Councillor Humphries had this to say about the day:
"As one of the local councillors involved in supporting a move for a replacement skate park in NM, I have learned a lot about the people who use skate parks and what an asset skate parks are to a community The training day was really good because the team who presented it were so in tune with the young people who use the skate park. It was fun, inclusive and very informative. It was delivered from experience and knowledge. where everyone who was in the room was made to feel valued and important. Good stuff guys".

Winchester Skatepark Ambassadors Training

John Capps.jpg

Article first published December 2014

The Sk8 Safe team love road trips and this one was took a special place in our hearts for 2014! Maverick Park Builders, Winchester Council and the young people had built a truly outstanding Skate Park, one fit for having truly outstanding Skate Park Ambassadors. Our mission was to bring everyone together and equip them with the training to realise their potential as ambassadors.

Sarah, Julie and Blythe led the training whilst Ben filmed and managed the technology. The ambassadors loved the activities we had planned for them and moulded the future of Winchester Skate Park beautifully on the day.

Steve who heads up the Park Ambassadors had this to say about the day:
 “Yesterday was awesome. Sk8 Safe team really helped us figure out what we want out of the park now it's built and how to keep it sick. Also gave free tees and hoodies, stickers and Kam got himself a deck for a Back Blunt, Front Nose Blunt, Airwalk and mpossible down the set. Boder got a fat Heelflip down the set along with BS Crooks and Boards. I managed to sit on the ledge and watch the madness. Smashed it! Loads of sick tricks went down as well as training so was well worth it. The Council and I have got loads to work with next month so a HUGE thank you to all of you turned up at short notice.”

Check out the edit from the day filmed by Ben Relton