Skate park the place to be
EMERALD Skatepark is the place to be, with skateboarding clinics drawing large crowds once a month.
The skateboarding clinics are held by Emerald Skate Mates and supply coaching and training at no cost.
The workshops are designed to motivate and encourage local youth to use skate parks as a positive space to learn and improve their skills, build self-esteem and develop long-lasting friendships in the local community.
"We teach the kids how to skate, but we also teach them to look after the skate park and appreciate what they have got,” Emerald Skate Mates manager Aaron Lee said.
"We are passionate about skateboarding and thought we could hold these clinics for kids and teach them how to skateboard safely, correctly, and build a cultural group.
"We are named Emerald Skate Mates because we wanted the kids to come together, have fun and show them that skate parks can be used in a better way then what they are viewed.”
The skateboarding clinics are run once a month on a Sunday afternoon and in accordance with the Australian Skateboarding Federation guidelines, all participants are required to wear helmets and sign waivers.
"The clinics are free and we supply 10 skateboards that the Central Highlands Regional Council have donated to us,” Mr Lee said.
"We encourage kids to bring their own skateboards, however if they don't have one they can still rock up and participate, all they need is a helmet, closed-in shoes and a parent or guardian to sign waivers.
"They can then spend all afternoon having fun and learning a new skill.
"It's gotten really popular, which we are happy about.”
Mr Lee said it was rewarding seeing the kids participate and having fun.
"Skateboarding has always been a niche activity and it captures the kids who don't have access to much else,” he said.
"Skateboarding is good because it includes everyone from all walks of life, it's not just for boys.
"It gives kids an access to long-lasting friendships and it's good seeing them enjoy themselves so much.
"My experience is every kid who jumps on a skateboard wants to buy one straight after.
"It's getting them to jump on the skateboard and get that confidence, because a lot of kids don't know how to use them but once they have that platform to be tutored by people such as myself, they feel comfortable, safe and just have a ball.
"We see it all the time.”
Going on his own experience, Mr Lee said the sport could be both competitive and fun.
"Skateboarding can be a competitive sport if that is the way you want to go, or it can be a way for you to just have fun with friends.
"Skateboarding doesn't have that competitive culture behind it, it is about having fun and learning new skills. It's a diverse sport and loads of fun.”
Emerald Skate Mates will hold a full-day skate competition on May 12. Keep an eye on its Facebook page for more information.