Being a youth centre located directly opposite the local skatepark offers its own challenges but it also offers lots of opportunities for youth work.
For young people partaking in sport can be very beneficial to their lives, teaching them about resilience and determination, working as a team and supporting and encouraging each other. It also gives us, as young workers, a chance to talk about healthy living, active lifestyles and strengthening and building relationships.
Why put a youth centre next to a skatepark?
Young people do take pride and ownership of their skatepark. They are aware of changes to the skatepark, when new people show up and spend a lot of their time there.
Having a close relationship with the skatepark allows us to venture into the skatepark and engage with young people on their turf. We can meet new young people who have started using the skatepark and check in with some of the older regulars that used Sk8side when they were younger.
The "older generation" of skatepark are actually a vital tool, particularly if they were Sk8side users when they were younger. If we can instil values such as keeping the skatepark clean and ensuring it is a safe place for children and parents with our old Sk8side members then the younger generation might see this and hopefully copy those values.
What do we do in the skatepark?
When we do go out into the skatepark we might discuss the problem of litter, antisocial behaviour or we may run a one off event like our summer BBQ or our annual skate competition.
As well as the day to day we also run some on-going projects such as the hydration station- where we go out into the skatepark with water, chairs and sometimes even some fruit to challenge the young people on their use of energy drinks.
We also want to challenge the idea that the skatepark is for boys and that girls should sit and watch. This is not the case, women should be out using the skatepark as much as men and the girls skate project is a way of getting our young men used to the fact that females can use the skatepark too.
Sk8side is an extension of the skatepark as much as the skatepark is an extension of Sk8side and it is an important part of our work with young people.