Call the Park Warden…

Over the years I’ve been involved in a few skatepark projects/organisations who aim to build improvements to skateparks, or build entirely new skateparks. The drive to do this is to provide better facilities for myself and other skateboarders, and to showcase how a good skatepark is a positive benefit to the community.

As an advocate for groups like this, you obviously have to meet with many groups who can help you get a skatepark – and many of these people don’t really understand skateboarding. Nonetheless, if you can convince them of the positives of skateparks you can get something built.

An unfortunate downside of being involved with a campaign like this is being the target of complaints or the spokesperson for a whole group of young people when something inevitably happens that pisses someone off. This can be excessive littering, people gathering at the skatepark to drink and smoke weed, or chavs turning up and starting fights. 

Every time something like this has happened at a skatepark I’ve been involved with, you eventually get a parent or someone from the council messaging you to see if you can “communicate to the guys that this is not OK”, like we all somehow know each other.

You can argue back, and reasonably say “This is not how skateboarders use a skatepark, it is counterproductive to the actual act of skateboarding – why would anyone who is actually skating want to increase the chance of injury by smashing glass bottles? Why would a group of guys who had fought for years to get a skatepark do anything to negatively impact the already tainted view the public have of skateboarders?”

This response usually gets zero sympathy. They see us as all the same group. They think the chavs coming down to a skatepark to smoke weed, start fights and smash glass are the same guys in their mid thirties who come down for an hour on a sunday to carve around and get some exercise. They don’t realise that they are complaining to the wrong people, and we have already told kids who litter and make our scene look bad give us just as much shit as them when we pull them up on their crappy behaviour.

Groups campaigning for skateparks are not park wardens. We do not have the authority to stop idiot kids from misbehaving. We can only ask them nicely to stop being dicks, and guess how often that actually works? I’ll give you a hint: it’s less than 1% of the time. The skatepark is not the reason you’re seeing anti-social behaviour – young people will go wherever there are other young people, that’s a given. If it wasn’t the skatepark it would be somewhere else in the same park, or on a street corner nearer to your house. Kids are going to drink and smoke… 

My honest advice is to call the god damn police if you have a problem with anti-social behaviour. Because that’s what you pay taxes for.

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