Watford Borough Council in partnership with ABC Skateboarding, have been providing children with special education needs, the chance to experience the freedom and fun of skateboarding in an inclusive and supportive environment at Oxhey Activity Park this month.
The workshops which ran over four Saturdays from 2 to 23 October, were attended by over 40 people. They provided the opportunity for children to participate in activities that will get them started on their skateboarding journey, as well as improving their skills, balance, and social interaction. Each child was paired with a skateboard coach, with advice geared towards that child’s specific needs to help build their self-esteem in a non-competitive, healthy and fun space.
Research has shown skateboarding and wheeled sports are a good fit for those with special education needs. This is because although they may find social situations difficult, as they are not dependent on a coach or team, they can largely skateboard on their own. Stimulating and adventurous activities like skateboarding, can also help people with ADHD focus and build self-confidence. Those with physical disabilities were also supported in the workshops.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor said: “When we built Oxhey Activity Park, making the area accessible to everyone was at the heart of the project, by including a changing places facility at the café, ramps, accessible routes and a disability friendly play area, including sensory play equipment. It’s great to see we are building on this by offering dedicated workshops for children with special education needs. It’s so important to me that our sport, play and leisure facilities are available for everyone in the community to use.”
Alex Barton, founder of ABC Skateboarding said: “What’s great about skaters, is that they are a diverse group of individuals that welcome all different kinds of people. Whilst the children may have different needs to others, everyone at Oxhey Activity Park makes sure they can have fun like anyone else.”
Through the Wheeled Sport Community Officers, park-users are reminded to be sensitive to those who have invisible disabilities, so that everyone can enjoy the park and feel safe and welcome. Between 60-80% of people with disabilities have a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside. These can limit movements, senses, behaviours, or activities and can lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions, and judgements.
To find out more about the Oxhey Activity Park and ABC Skateboarding sessions, please visit the website at oxheyactivitypark.co.uk.