Feature Article - February 2012
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Bring On the Action!

Easy Steps to Introduce Action Sports to Your Community

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Create a Culture

Once you've set things in motion, you can stand back and be amazed at the tricks the kids in your community can do. Find ways to support what they're doing, treat action sports as an athletic activity like all the others available in town, and encourage their efforts. The skatepark can become a new hub of positive activity within the community.

As the action sports crowd in town gains more skills, they may be up for a new challenge, so you might consider organizing a tour of other skateparks in the area, offering an action sports camp, or inviting in a skate pro for a special demonstration or workshop. Skatepark cleanup days are another option for getting the community involved in taking care of the facility, suggested Donelon. Kids can help repaint the elements, if needed, and clear away trash.

In Vancouver, Wash., Bad Monkey Bikes, the local skate and BMX shop, sponsors a competition at the Extreme Sports Park each year, which is a fundraiser to help generate the money needed to build the second phase of the park. The park has also hosted the Northwest Old School BMX Show, and a park district community center offers summer skateboard lessons at the park. "Ideally, we would like to provide a good mix of both programmed and unprogrammed uses at this facility," Jordan said.

When all is said and done, having an action sports venue of some kind is really no more unusual than having a basketball court these days, says Travis. And it may require a lot less programming and maintenance. He noted that Ohio Dreams Action Sports Camp is out in the middle of Amish country in rural Ohio, but the community six miles away, which has only three traffic lights, also has a concrete skatepark. And every suburb on the way into Columbus has one, too. "It's catching on," he said.

So why not have your community catch on as well? Although some people contend that skateboarding and other action sports are just a passing fad, "I don't think something that's been around for 40 years can really be called a fad anymore," Jordan said. "It's vital that cities and counties provide recreational opportunities for everyone—and that includes teenagers and young adults."