The growth and direction of youth sports has shifted, and skateboarding, BMX, mountain biking, snowboarding and scootering have become more mainstream than baseball, volleyball, tennis and football. These new-age action sports programs are not only keeping the attention of today’s youth, but also appealing to the cool factor and their current interests.
Research has shown that Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. are the “danger hours,” when youth are more apt to get into trouble. Kids on the streets during these times are 80 percent more susceptible to being caught up in drugs, getting hit by a car, hanging out with the wrong crowd, being accosted or forming habits that can lead to obesity.
According to the Gannett News Service, 70 percent of America’s prison inmates do not have high school diplomas. Research also shows that more than 3,400 murders and 172,000 violent assaults nationwide could be prevented if high school graduation rates were only 10 percent higher. In addition, more than $15 billion in lost wages, healthcare, taxes and excessive incarceration costs per year would also be saved. The negative effect of that disparity jeopardizes the sanctity and quality of life for all Americans.
Eight out of 10 kids love action sports and are either fans, participants or enthusiasts. Skateboarding has more than 11 million active members, scootering more than 20 million active members, and BMX more than 11 million, so there’s a good chance that more than half of the kids attending your rec center will also like these activities.
With a program like Freshpark Industries’ 327, which provides turn-key skate or bike packages that include all the necessary equipment, establishing an action sport program is as easy as assigning a section of your parking lot or playground for the activity. Some noticeable benefits of this and similar programs include improved academic achievement, a reduction in disruptive behavior both in and outside of the classroom and an overall change in mindset.
Kids who don’t participate in these sports can be involved in other ways; for example, as the photographer, webmaster or director. They could also be assigned to run the program, because, more than likely, they will know more than you about action sports.
The biggest myth of action sports is the liability is too high, but keeping your 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. programming portable can limit your liability and risk from theft. Obtaining the proper Portable Action Sports Youth Program liability insurance is as easy as obtaining any other type of insurance. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, skateboarding and scootering are ranked below football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading, handball, lacrosse and baseball on the list of injuries per 100,000 kids. The most common injuries incurred on a bike, skateboard or scooter are from being hit by a car. This is why it’s important to provide safe places to keep kids off the streets.
Roger W. Hickey is President/Founder of Freshpark Industries LLC.