What is all the fuss about performing tricks? ‘The desire of self-improvement makes you fearless, assertive and self-confident’, explains one of the skaters involved in the ‘Skatepark Mobil’ initiative. Loaded with skateboards and BMX bikes in an Italian Piaggio, they visit skate parks in Munich and offer youngsters an easier start to skateboarding for free. They want to empower the next generation of citizens.
From May to October experienced skaters go to skate parks, sometimes located closed to deprived areas, and teach skateboarding to break the ice and listen to youngsters. ‘When we teach them skateboarding, we build a bridge of confidence with them’, explains Simon Stevens one of the teachers, a professional BMX rider.
Through skateboarding they can improve their self-esteem and stamina, discover hidden talents, and develop new skills through fun and enjoyment.
The initiative ‘Skatepark Mobil’ has been founded by the non-profit organization HIGH FIVE. Their members are passionate about skateboarding and snowboarding. And this passion developed into a profession. ‘Wee see HIGH FIVE as a mission to share our passion with youngsters and show them how much sport can positively impact their lives, explains Adrien Hannart, the project manager of ‘Skatepark Mobil’.
HIGH FIVE is based on the conviction that sports can convey important emotional, social and integrative abilities. Youngsters learn to progressively achieve self-imposed goals, to support each other and to discover new talents.
The focus is on children and adolescents with difficult backgrounds like low-income families, social neglect, poor education, migration, parentless childhood, etc.
‘Skatepark Mobil’ believes that children and young people who feel well and respected, and perceive themselves as part of a community, have very good opportunities for development. Skateboarding can achieve that.
Skateboarding has often been portrayed as dirty, rebellious and defiant. However, skaters represent a fascinating positive outlook on life, they develop a different view of the city and their fellow citizens.
At the beginning of this century many cities began implementing skate parks, inviting skateboarders to come off the city streets and into organized skateboarding activity areas. Youngsters with different backgrounds, culture and social status meet at these public spaces.
‘Skatepark Mobil’ gives them an introduction to the skateboarding subculture of mutual respect and the careful use of the infrastructure. Skaters are supposed to learn from each other, understand each other better and build networks.
There is another organization called SkatePal, which is also run by a committed team of local and international skaters that supports young people of Palestine through skateboarding. They also believe that skateboarding engages youth, relieves stress and helps to build confidence.
On June 2017 the city of London suffered the London Bridge terrorist attack. Ignacio Echeverría was a Spanish lawyer and banker, very fond of skateboarding, who got killed when he was fighting off one of the terrorists with his skateboard. After that he was known as the Skateboard Hero. He was posthumously awarded with many distinctions from London and other cities related to him.
When HIGH FIVE presented the ‘Skatepark Mobil’ initiative to city administrators in Munich, it took one year for HIGH FIVE to prove that it was serious about what it wanted to achieve. Finally they got the financial support of the city. Unfortunately other initiatives don’t even have the resources to survive one year to show that they can make a positive impact on citizens.
Initiatives like ‘Skatepark Mobil’ are of great importance for cities because they empower the next generation of citizens. Cities need many more skateboard heroes.