Skating at school: freedom & creativity
An innovative skateboarding programme in schools is the brainchild of Otago Polytechnic student Jimmy Hay, whose passion for skateboarding inspired his community project at Opoho School.
The project is part of his third-year study for a Bachelor of Applied Science.
As nobody currently teaches skateboarding in Dunedin, Jimmy saw an opportunity that could even lead to a small business eventually.
The skateboarding lessons are part of the school’s Discovery programme. With options such as yoga, cooking, digital technology and cardboard construction, it is a time for pupils to explore their own interests and learn self-management.
As eight children raced across the school court to grab a skateboard and helmet for a photoshoot with the Valley Voice, it was clear they have discovered a new sport they all enjoy.
Most schools have a lot of competitive and team sports on offer, says Jimmy, but skateboarding is a sport that provides freedom and creativity.
There is no pressure. Skaters build confidence, learn at their own pace and help each other.
Teacher Sandor Toth says it has been amazing to see the children develop from having almost never been on a skateboard to now riding confidently around the courts, down the drive and learning ‘ollies’ and other tricks.
“It has just been wonderful. It’s great for resilience, as well as balance and coordination. They always come in with a bit of a sweat on.”
Nine-year-old Amali Addai says skateboarding is fun and she loves learning new things. “Sometimes I get really scared I’m going to tip off, but when I did I just sat there for a bit and then got back on.”
The project is supported by skate shop Pavement, who got behind the idea and supplied skateboards and helmets.
Jimmy hopes the project will help to combat negative stereotypes sometimes associated with skateboarding. His next step is to expand into other schools.