Sunday 20 October 2013

Let 'Em Skate - An Extreme Street Sports Charity Thats Off The Wall

Ok so for this scribble, even though I'm all grown up (as the conforming society will say) I'm a fan of cartoons, especially this little guy who probably is one of the most famous cartoon characters created on our third rock from the sun. Can you guess who it is ......even though there is a picture right there...yep Bart Simpson. I loved him as a kid, he was a real rebellious dude - the famous little yellow rascal who's mischievous nature is rarely seen without hurtling along on a trusty skateboard up to no good.....but actually not all skateboarders are up to no good, undeserving of the whole 'tut tut tut' waving the pointed finger in disgust at them as if they were juvenile delinquents. Lets lift those judgemental stigmas.....they actually should be encouraged.

I recently stumbled across a youth 'extreme sports' charity Sutton Ramp Events who's passion for skateboarding, along with other extreme recreational street sports, aim to stamp out any negative, shady or intimidating vibes by encouraging local cool kids from all backgrounds to further indulge or to take up the art of skatin' or scooterin' in a friendly environment. I stand and watch some of the kids kitted up with helmets as young as eight, the sound of their wheels rolling as they coolly fly up and whizz down the edgy graffiti ridden ramps on their scooters and boards.....little Bart Simpsons without any fear.

God don't you miss that age.

Now I'm the occasional roller blader myself, but these little dudes are something else. They could teach me a thing or two. Somewhat impressed by their bold attempts to manoeuvre and curl up and along the ramps in a bid to score points....they are competing in an competition put on by the charity and a team of volunteers, which the kids seem to relish. Showcasing to a live audience their well practiced tricks as well as an opportunity to score some status and respect amongst the other riders bantering in their little groups. Andy is one of the brains behind the charity, acting as the competition judge for the three rounds  who's voice keeps cutting out over the distorted sound system - but hey that's the charm of street sports!

I start talking to Dave who's busy giving free tutoring to some keen young little fellas and another girl! over at the mobile ramps nearby which take 40 minutes for them to assemble. I join in and grab a skateboard, the charities funky design sprawled underneath the deck and attempt a bit of boarding myself from his free advice (and no I did not break my ankle, even though I did come close). No fear, like the kids. I can skate straight at least.

I do pick up some skate lingo though, 'Ollyin' (very coolly jumping the skateboard with your feet still on the deck, cleverly demonstrating the physics behind gravity and leverage) but its a little ambitious at an early stage however cool it looks...for me anyway.... while I was still learning to basically turn and still keep my balance. But not for some of the kids, who enthusiastically seek Dave's advice on flipping the deck or swirling the board around. They're not afraid to take a tumble and when they do, there's not a drop of a tear as they walk the grazes off in their swagger

 Leon and Michael giving me tips

Two little friendly boys Leon on his skateboard and Michael on his scooter, are also kicking back on the Saturday afternoon. Alive with a plucky spark, they whizz effortlessly around me playfully chuckling as they take on the cramped ramp where Dave occasionally has to resolve any bickering.....still they're bickering over having a go, not bickering that they don't want to do it. Older kids are also swirling around, many wearing red t-shirts which shows they are part of the volunteering crew - now that's gotta look good on their ole' C of V and they are definitely not juvenile delinquents, donating their time to teach and run sports events for local kids.   

The charity each week go into schools and run an afternoon skate session at a local church, giving interested kids free use of skateboards and offer their tuition to inspire a new recreational hobby and interest. Having been a weekend community coach volunteer for charity Tennis For Free myself which I included in an article for UK Tennis Magazine, the same ethos echoed right out with the same common idea; community volunteers giving up their time to willingly offer free skills tuition that they themselves may have taken years to master. Why? - I guess because they are considerate about the ever spawning population of bored kiddies who are on the streets with nothing to do. The idea is to build kids confidence, social skills and sense of adventure aswell as an interest in getting out and about in the local community for some physically exercise (and no that's not exercising their thumbs all day on a Tony Hawks HalfPipe Nintendo DS Game!) and unlike Tennis (apart from Tennis For Free), the street sports sessions and competitions don't cost them a penny. 

Dave tells me they're lucky its not raining on this Autumn day as the charity have been hosting these skate/scooter/biking/blading comps they call Elevate throughout the year, but only when its know 'Health and Safety' and all that...

....but may now be facing difficulties due to local funding cuts for the Youth Services which is likely to be for many other youth leisure and recreational projects throughout the UK.

The charities long term plan is to get enough funding to build an indoor skateboarding centre as a permanent focal point for people to come skate, but due to the latest revelation of local council spending cuts, the charity may struggle to get funding to even run another competition for the skate youth of tomorrow. Sadly, the economic downturn has led to the discontinuation of several funding streams, leaving Sutton Ramp Events facing some financial challenges.

Now that's a bit of a drag, but its likely to be a national problem with the UK's present unbalanced economic climate aswell as dealing with the inevitable outcome of more bored and unproductive youngsters in 2014.

You can contact to help or check out more stuff Sutton Ramps Events do for young people on their website....yes which I stole some pictures off with good intentions!     

I would have skated home, but I had to give the skateboard back! haha


No comments:

Post a Comment

Scribble back!