Learning from Skateboarders

I talked with a group of students carrying skateboards at a middle school the other day. I was visiting the school for work, and afterward, heading out to the parking lot I ran into this group.

“Hey, where do you guys skate around here?” There were two girls with four boys. “We go down to a park. Its like four blocks.” “How long have you been skating?” “Like four years.” “Five years!” This group wasn’t more than 13.

What is it about skateboarding that makes people do it all their lives? Here on the wild streets of Olympia there are more than a hand full of 30-somethings rolling around, not in hardcore skater gear, but in hipster clothes and all this 30-something clothing. These are folks who’ve been riding for more than 15 years. And this says nothing of the people who make money from the sport.

What are the lessons we can learn from skateboarding, basketball, baseball, or any of the other activities we learn as children and youth that carry that interest into our adult lives? What does Little League baseball and junior soccer have that draws parents in to support their childrens’ activities?

There is an idea in there about the value of the activity, about the team or collegiality or community within that activity? I think that youth voice, youth involvement, youth activism activities can and should learn something from these pinnacles of suburban hype. What is it?

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