How many dollars is a life worth? Can a skatepark make hard crime, like murder, plummet in a given geographic area? Recently, I read in a New York newspaper (with all the news that is fit to print) about the top most crime-ridden sectors of New York City. The article identified rape, murder and robbery as the main issues.
- How would a top-of-the-line skateboarding skatepark benefit Harlem, New York?
- How about South Norwalk, Connecticut’s, Ryan Park, right next to Washington Village?
In California, Pennsylvania, and in many smart towns and cities across the country there are mega skateboarding park facilities, complete with night lighting and ample skateboarding space.
These allow a greater number of athletes to skateboard simultaneously, as well as provide a longer period of time where people with different schedules can use the park. The intensive-cognitive-physical strengthening, plus the low cost of purchasing safety gear and a skateboard makes this sport a win-win for typical individuals, but specially youth and children with special needs, like Autism, Downs Syndrome, ADHD or gross-motor deficits.
As a political scientist, Special Educator and skateboard school co-founder, I posit the idea that placing world-class skateboard ‘flow’ parks in the heart of Harlem, New York and South Norrwalk, Connecticut can create enough positive shift to make hard crimes like rape, murder and robbery to dramatically decrease. Skateboarding is a relatively quiet sport attracting people of different nationalities, ethnicities, religions and creeds. All you need is a skateboard, safety gear and epic commitment.
I anticipate a rapid growth of skateparks over the next ten years near school zones, and also the growth of competitive skateboarding leagues between schools and communities. I also foresee a positive shift in each local town and city culture that partakes in establishing skateboarding parks and helps start school leagues. To a great degree, the positive impact on a community would be according to the quality, size and accessibility of built skate parks. This shift would be evident by reductions in hard crimes, and even local talent that make it to the Olympics.
All said, if we a build small skateboarding parks that are out of the way, plus make people pay for entering and using the park the political scientific experiment will have limited positive effect. Schools and local governments would do well to entertain planning ten and twenty years ahead and visualizing the generations of youth and individuals with special needs who could grow up with access to skateboarding with community and school hosted skate parks and competitive leagues. In fact, just this summer, it has just been announced, along with surfing, that skateboarding will be a new Olympic sport starting in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Bringing in the possibility of Olympic dreams by building great skateparks can unleash passion and facilitate in revitalizing neighborhoods.