There was a time, not that long ago, when skateboarders and school officials were hostile warring parties.
Administrators, school boards, and city officials fearing the long arm of litigation declared war on skaters years ago, making them outlaws for riding anywhere near a schools’ coveted features like high curbs, manicured concrete roll-ins, and flat handrails, all of which make campuses a target rich environment for skaters.
In several instances the bans became city wide. To this day, the cat-and-mouse game skaters play with most security detail, be they hallway monitors, mall cops or fully deputized police officers, is not just a past time, but a source of pride.
But times are changing.
More and more schools, desperate to do anything to encourage kids into some physical activity, are warming up to the idea of bringing some “controlled chaos” into the P.E. class by not only encouraging them to take up the sport, but instructing them in the fundamentals.
Dave MacDonald, a P.E. Teacher at California’s Fillmore High, was the first in his state to adopt the innovative new program. He told NBC news reporters that after visiting a skate park with his kids, where he saw the same skilled kids and the apprehensive ones that are in his class, a light went on. “I thought…wow, this is the activity for our kids. If we can incorporate this into P.E., what an awesome thing that would be.”
While pro skaters like Hawk and Dyrdek are actively involved in getting more municipalities to build skate parks, Eric Klassen, a longtime skater and former pro snowboarder, launched Skate Pass to incorporate skating programs into schools. According to ESPN’s Matt Higgins, Klassen’s Skate Pass curriculum is now being put to use by more than 500 schools in 31 states, as well as other countries, including Canada, Germany, Singapore and the Dominican Republic.
The program is designed to fit what’s called the New P.E., which caters to those who aren’t necessarily athletic by giving them individual, non-competitive activities that get the blood pumping. In essence, they’re actually fooling kids into exercising by making P.E. more fun.
The Skate Pass program, which costs schools about $3000 to implement, has been getting rave reviews. And the positive effects go well beyond just the physical. According to Brandan Aldridge, who runs both before and after school programs at Will Rodgers Middle School in Fair Oaks, Calif., the real measure of the program’s success can be seen in his school’s attendance records. “We’re drawing 25 students every morning faithfully,” he testifies on the Skate Pass site. “Since we started our AM club, the tardies and absences of the students in the club have dropped dramatically!”