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Schooling for the skaters

The skatepark in Masterton. OnBoard Skate runs courses teaching youth to skate. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

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The newly formed Masterton skatepark community group have met for a second time to discuss the park’s future, focusing on safety and fun for all.

After concerns were raised from residents about antisocial behaviour and abuse of the attraction, mums Stella Lennox and Ces Newton organised a small group comprising key members of the community to make the park feel safe again.

Funding was granted to have OnBoard Skate, an organisation with almost 10 years of experience running skateboard programmes in schools across the North Island, present on weekday evenings for the rest of the school term.

It would provide gear and tutors to educate youth on skating, skills, tricks and safety.

“The plan is to have team members at the park during the week from 3pm until 5pm and one day on the weekend,” OnBoard Skate chief executive Steve Hodges said.

“They’ll be there to informally connect with the park’s local users and provide advice and assistance.”

Hodges said competitions would also be run every second Wednesday with prizes for categories such as ‘best trick’.

“We want to get existing users to take pride in and ownership of the park,” he said.

“That’s what has been missing.

“We’re hoping over time we will get older users on board to serve as mentors for the younger users and set an example.”

Lennox said the group was also looking to create a co-ordinator role to manage volunteers who would act as kaitiaki [guardians] of the park.

A programme of events held at the skatepark would be confirmed, with the first major event planned for Saturday, July 8, to kick-start the school holidays.

Funding for all the initiatives would be covered by grant applications available to community groups.

“It would be hard for this to fail,” Hodges said.

Hodges said he was optimistic and excited for the initiative to begin and that Masterton District Council’s youth hub would help.

The youth hub would bring toilets, food and drink, and storage for skate equipment to the park in the coming months.

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