Last fall the TSC won a grant from Evergreen Foundation via Jane’s Walk to host a small youth event aimed at increasing youth participation in TSC decision-making.
On Oct 15th, 2015, a group of young skaters met at Toronto City Hall for the TSC Youth Skate Jam and Forum. Following a brief session there, the group traveled by foot and skateboard to Lake Devo (aka The Pond) at Ryerson University where we skated one of the smoothest concrete slabs in the city. Despite conflicts with rain and security guards, skaters skated. Swag was donated by the local skate industry, and a handful of notable local skaters came by to show support, including local pros Morgan Smith and Wade DesArmo. After some complimentary food and drinks, in small focus groups skaters explored questions about how to improve the future of skateboarding in Toronto. About 35 young skaters came together that day (ages ranging from 6 to 20, with an average age of 15) and helped make the event a success. All attendees received a TSC sticker and event T-shirt. The vibe was positive and we heard numerous requests for more similar youth events in the future.
Some findings from the focus groups include:
1. Benefits of Skateboarding
Kids shared a range of ideas on how skateboarding benefits them: as performance art, transportation, a thrilling physical activity, exposure to risk-management, something to learn, creative pursuit, full of challenges, gratifying, freedom, open-ended, connection to city life, and it’s fun!
2. Sense of Community
Many kids reflected on the sense of community they find in skateboarding. Some expressed an interest in celebrating that through participating in community events, supporting videos showcasing skatepark communities, small contests, skate hangs and skate jams.
Many of these young skaters have had experiences getting kicked out of places for skateboarding. Some face strict board bans at their schools. Kids know it’s frowned upon to skate in public and private spaces that are not skateparks, however many also expressed an interest in working to change that.
4. Inclusive Transportation
One young skater suggested the City consider changing the bike symbol on city bike paths to a more inclusive “transit non-motorized” symbol, since other users (such as skateboarders) also use the bike paths.
5. Indoor and Neighbourhood Skateparks
Many kids are interested in seeing more indoor skateparks for winter seasons, including programs. Some skaters also expressed an interest for more locally accessible spaces (within their neighbourhood, since many kids don’t drive).
Although in TSC activities we aim to represent a diverse range of users, it is challenging to ensure we’re including the voice of children and youth in our discussions and decisions. Through this event the TSC successfully connected with and engaged a younger demographic. Our experiences from this event are being reflected back to the TSC executive team. A summary of the event will also be shared on our website, and these ideas will be considered as the TSC moves ahead with other related initiatives that will affect the experiences of younger skaters across the city.
The 2015 TSC Skate Jam and Youth Forum was organized and executed by TSC volunteers and friends. The event was generously supported by the Evergreen Foundation via Jane’s Walk, and prizes were generously provided by Adrift, BTL, Baitshop, Hammer, Sanction, SkateLoft, Kadence, Grand Trading, DGK, Fourstar, Direct, Indy, InStance, RDS, IMGNRY, Vans, TGS and Evolve Camps.