SOPHIE BROWNSON takes a look at where to find some of the best ramps and half-pipes for skateboarders, BMX riders and those riding scooters.
A SPORT like no other, skateboarding has the ability bring together different demographics and social groups in a shared passion.
This is the view held by many in the skating world who have seen first hand the positive impact that skating has on participants of the sport.
With more than 15 skate parks in Gwent, it seems that councils and other authorities are latching on to the positive impacts of skating as the number of parks in the county continues to grow.
Torfaen council is one such council realising that skating helps to keep young people engaged in a worthwhile activity rather that loitering on the streets.
With skate parks in Pontypool Park, Cwmbran Boating Lake as well as a council maintained one at Cold Barn Farm, Torfaen council, like Newport and Monmouthshire, is backing the skating trend.
“Skating, BMX and scooters are all great ways for children to keep active, and skate parks allow them to do this in a safe environment,” Councillor John Cunningham, executive member for neighbourhoods said.
“We are currently developing a brand new skate park in Cwmbran that has been designed with input from local skaters and is due to open later in the year.”
Skate parks in Monmouthshire are also hugely popular with young people.
Youth leader and skater, Steven Caswell, 28, of Abergavenny Youth Service, has said that the Abergavenny skate park is used daily by dozens of teens.
“I started skating before Abergavenny Skate Park was built,” Mr Caswell said.
“I was part of the push to get the park in Abergavenny built.
“Abergavenny now has one of the nicest parks in the area to go on, as it has more going on in terms of the skating, if you compare with Chepstow and Caldicot, for example.
“The Chepstow park is just evolving as part of Monmouth’s push for more skate parks, while Abergavenny park is a good ride because it has a three quarter bowl in it.
“This makes it nice to ride as the skaters can practice different skills on it due to the smoothness of the ride.”
Mr Caswell said that this park also encourages those who use scooters – a new trend coming into the forefront of the skating scene- to take part.
“I have seen a lot more females using scooters which are getting them in to the sport,” he added.
“Not only are they riding them but they are riding them to a high standard too.”
Mr Caswell said that the skate parks help different groups to socialise over common ground.
“I think skate parks are one of the only places that people from different backgrounds and groups cam come together.
“Skating breaks down boundaries.”
Mr Caswell who got into the sport aged 13 said that although many of the parks are council run, young people don’t know who to contact of there are damages, and he has been liaising with young people to help the maintenance of the parks.
“When I was working in Caldicot and where I am working now in Abergavenny, there is a real skate boarding community and I have been involving young people in talking about how they can develop the skate parks and how they can raise the money to do this.”
Many skateboarders typically favour both indoor and outdoor skate parks and enjoy the sport for fun, fitness or as a mode of transport.
Skate parks across Gwent include those at; Ebbw Vale; Ebbw Vale Hilltop; Caerphilly Porset Park ; Newbridge Treowen; Oakdale; Risca; Abergavenny; Caldicot ; Chepstow; Monmouth; Newport Fear and Rolling Indoor; Nrewport Tredegar park ; Cwmbran; Pontypool; Trevethin; Bettws.
The skateboarding scene in Gwent has evolved over the years with the county gaining more and more skating facilities both indoors and outdoors as the councils get on board. It is the development of new facilities for skating that has led to the sport becoming more mainstream. Such new facilities include Newport’s indoor skate park Fear and Rolling, where Newport owner Tom Bowman, 30, has seen a wide demographic of skaters turn up to the park to take part in the addictive sport.’
The indoor skate park is in the process of becoming a registered charity along with charity ‘Just Add Spice’ which aims to give people in the area who do jobs in the community, time credits which they can spend as they choose including using the skate facility free of charge.
The park is which has wooden ramps and a concrete floor unlike outdoor parks provides skates with an alternative skating experience from outdoor parks.
“I think indoor skate parts are pretty important,” he said.
“At Fear and Rolling we have a foam pit which allows skaters to learn really daring tricks such as flips that they wouldn’t be able to do outside.
“The foam pit is one of the main advantages of an indoor skate park as so many skills can be learnt here.
“The difference between an indoor and outdoor skate park is that we have first aiders on hand.
“Skate parks are great for bringing people together.”
Owner Mr Bowman has been running monthly ‘all night skate events’ at the park where skaters can literally skate all night –from 9pm to 9am-proving hugely popular with young skaters.
“If it wasn’t for indoor skate parks I think obesity would be a much bigger problem as you can practise indoors instead of staying at home playing on the Xbox,” he added.
More information can be found at www.fearandrolling.com
For a full list of parks in Gwent visit http://www.skateparksaroundwales.co.uk/1_parks.html