Youth skate school gets funding boost

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Few people sit on the fence when it comes to skateboarding. They either love or loathe it, but a Nelson youth trust reckons it deserves promoting.

It has launched a skate school to give kids who don’t play traditional sports more to do over the winter.

With help from a Kiwisport grant from Sport Tasman, the Youth and Community Facility Trust is running eight free Saturday skateboarding sessions in the Energy Centre at Founders Park. The trust also operates The Truck, a mobile sport and recreation service, with help from the Nelson City Council.

The first of the 12 noon – 4pm sessions – which involve two hours of tuition from top local skater Tom McGhee followed by two hours of practise on their indoor skate park – started last week (August 1).

Eleven boys and girls aged from 11- 18 took part, with 19 already confirmed for the next session, and skate school project manager Callum Huntley says the trust is still taking applications.

They range from kids who had never been on a skateboard to intermediate riders.

Huntley says the feedback has been excellent.

“Young people are just stoked to have the chance to pick Tom’s brains and ride with him.”

“It’s been great to see the more experienced riders pass on tips to the newbies.’’

Parents are welcome to come along and watch, and some have already had a go in the skate park afterwards.

Huntley says the project is filling a gap in youth services over winter.

“Outside of traditional sports, we find young people have very little to do at weekends, especially if you’re a skater and you can’t ride one of your local parks because it’s raining.”

“Aside from that, skating teaches young people to take healthy risks, increases confidence and – despite being misunderstood and at times frowned upon – is made up of a very supportive and passionate community.’’

At the sessions, McGhee starts with the basics, including safety and how to improve balance and confidence, before moving onto more advanced things like board maintenance and the best way to bail out.

“Every rider is at a different skill level, so Tom works one on one with them to help get what they want out of a session, whether that’s nailing a trick or just learning to roll around,’’ Huntley says.

Nigel Muir, chief executive of Sport Tasman, says the Kiwisport grant was a great example of the Sport Sector moving with the times.

“Today’s youth are wanting to try different activities. This is an excellent initiative by the Nelson youth trust and we are delighted to support it,” he says.

The sessions run until September 26 and people can register or find out more by contacting Huntley at [email protected] or ringing 0275 194 401.