Skateboarding and the inclusion of young people in the community

Dispelling stereotypes related to skateboarding and social inclusion

This project evolved from previous research which examined play spaces for children and the value of nature-based play.

In our focus groups with young people, teenagers would say, “Playgrounds are ok for younger kids, but what about us?”

This research supported the notion that skate parks not only provide a venue for leisure and physical activity, but can act as an important social space for young people.

The research challenged the negative stereotypes frequently associated with skate parks and skateboarding, finding young people who hang out there practise a range of pro-social behaviours and life skills critical for the social development and resilience.

We have used our findings to advocate for skateable areas for young people in many local government areas, both in Western Australia, such as within the City of Stirling, Gosnells, Australind, Collie and Mandurah, and interstate, in regions such as Gympie and Braidwood. Our work was recognised by the Tony Hawk Foundation in the United States.

Following the completion of the project, we are now seeking funding to involve students in designing some skateboard-related sculptures for the UWA campus. If these developments go ahead, we will be the first university in the southern hemisphere to feature skateboarding-related artwork.

When carrying out this research, we collected data on patterns of use and types of users. We looked at the age, gender, skate/BMX/scooter use, whether users were from local areas, and what transport they used to get to the park. The Nicholson Reserve skate park was our focus for this body of research.

When investigating skate park user views, we asked whether they thought the facility catered for all abilities and whether there was enough space for all areas. We used their suggestions to assist in improving or complementing the existing skate park area.

This research led to a report which we provided to the City of Subiaco for it to refer to when planning future development and upgrading skate park areas.

Contact Associate Professor Lisa Wood