Saturday 12 July 2014

PROTECT THE NOGGIN! #Skateboarding Safety Gear, Lessons & Park Etiquette @TopSkateShop

House Rules: 

No Helmet - No skateboarding, No helmet - No cycling, No helmet - No snowboarding.
We wear helmets to model behaviour and so kids can never say: but you don't wear a helmet.
We invest in proper fitting certified helmets and safely equipment specific to the sport. We do not 
   try to make helmets multi-task.
No earbuds in while skateboarding or cycling on the street. You need to be aware of your 
   surroundings and what is happening around you. It really does not matter who is at fault, you will 
   not win a fight with a moving vehicle.

Like most sports skateboarding involves some risk, but there are ways in which you can minimize the risks of injury. Basic sport specific certified safety equipment that fits properly is the easiest way to reduce the risk of injury. 

Helmets: Helmets protect your child's head from cuts, concussions, and brain injury. I can think of no better equipment investment. You would not use a hockey helmet to cycle in, and neither should you use a bicycle helmet to skateboard, skate or snowboard in. Each helmet is designed for a specific sport and the speed and type of impact most plausible for that sport. Concrete is different than snow or ice. Remember helmets only work if they are properly fitted and worn in the way intended. Once you have a good helmet, next is pads.

Elbow Pads: Kids fall skateboarding, especially when they first start. Elbow pads not only help to reduce scraps and bruises, they also help to prevent very painful breaks in or around the elbow. (Mandatory in most indoor skateparks)

Knee Pads: Just like elbow pads, knee pads help to reduce or prevent scraps, bruising, and breaks to the knee area. A pair of knee pads for skateboarding are completely smooth allowing a skater to safely slide out of a vert trick. It also protects those $60 jeans you just invested in. (Mandatory in most indoor skateparks)

Wrist Guards: Wrist guards help to protect from wrist injuries from falling, especially for new skaters. As a skater's skills progress the wrist guards may interfere with the ability to do certain tricks.

The kid in the blue t-shirt is mine.

Skateboarding is a sport, and a challenging one at that. 
Please read my Skateboard Manual post for more information about buying a skateboard.
What appears to be simple tricks take hours of practice to master. Lessons teach your child how to do tricks safely and at the level they are ready for. They are give in a controlled environment where your child can learn the steps involved in a trick and how to fall or "bail" safety to avoid injury. 

I often get asked "How can your watch you son doing those dangerous skateboard tricks? Aren't you worried?" My answer is yes and no. Yes I am always concerned about my kids being injured, and let's face it broken bones are no fun. Mostly my answer is no, because I have invested the in the proper safety equipment, he has taken lessons for years, and he has put in thousands of hours of practice to improve his skill which decreases his risk of injury. 

My son did not start out dropping into 13 foot ramps, or sliding down a rail over 8 stairs. These are not beginner tricks, and the likelihood of him being able to do these injury free without mastering more basic skills is very low. The lessons and instruction have given him the confidence to take calculated risks. It is no different than a gymnast or figure skater.

I cannot stress enough the benefits of lessons for your child. Your child will learn faster, in an environment where safety equipment is required. They will learn at their own pace the right way to do tricks. Instructors teach, demonstrate and observe your child's progress. They can spot your child dropping into a ramp, point out what they are doing right or wrong, and tell them if they are ready to move to more challenging tricks. Each success reduces frustration, builds confidence, encourages your child to practice, get better and stick with it.

Lessons prepare your child for when he or she does go to a busy unsupervised skatepark by helping them understand the rules and etiquette, which helps to keep all skaters injury free. They might even run into one of the instructors at the skatepark, and it is always nice to see a familiar face.

My son has taken may lessons and attended many camps including the ones at McNabb Recreation Centre & Skatepark offered by Top of the World Skate Shop Camps and the City of Ottawa, and they come highly recommended in my books. I asked Eric Dionne, a 22 year skateboarding veteran, Top's Skate Team Manager, buyer and part owner of Top of the World Skate Shop 

What to expect at one of their skate camps?
"Our partnership with the City of Ottawa skateboard camp is over 1o years strong now. Camps are based out of McNabb Skate Park, and we offer 7 different weeks of programming. The camps are week long programs for ages 6-15 years of age, and are offered at both the beginner and the advanced levels. All instructors are local skateboarders that can teach anything from how to push correctly to hitting your first handrail. A few instructors are bi-lingual so instruction can be offered in French as well as English."

Eric can you tell us why you think it is important for kids to have proper equipment and lessons when they are starting out skateboarding.
"All campers are required to wear a helmet, elbow and knee pads. One of the more important aspects of our camps is to promote the longevity of the sport through safety and the proper use of protective gear. All our trained staff teaches skate park etiquette and how to skate in a busy crowd or skate park. One of the biggest factors in preventing injury is to know your surroundings at all time and how to react to different situations."

For more information about the McNabb Skate Park City of Ottawa/Top of the World skate camps visit Top of the World - McNabb Skate Camp Information. Note: you can register your child for McNabb Skate Camp in person at the McNabb Community Centre located at 180 Percy, Ottawa 613-564-1070. As well there is a GIRLS ONLY session on Thursday evenings! 

Okay here comes the part where some parents and adults need some "schoolin" and need to respect the skaters. Thinking out loud about this may not make me any friends but I strongly believe it needs to be said. You set the tone and example for your kids. The number of adults I have seen with a total lack of respect and regard for skater's safety is shocking! A skatepark is not a play ground or climbing structure. It is not a place to let your kids run around then blame the skater when your kid AND the skater gets injured. The definition of sport is: "an activity involving physical exertion and skill that is govern by a set of rules and customs and often engaged in competitively." via The Free Dictionary  The rules include a basic code of conduct which apply to us parents as well.

You probably wouldn't let your child go to play in the middle of a baseball diamond or a tennis court during a practise or a game, because it is dangerous and quite frankly rude. I can't understand why so many parents think it is okay for toddlers to run around or ride their bike with training wheels through a skateboard park. 

I know it is not all or even most parents, but if you see this please speak up. Better a nasty glare from an annoyed parent than a serious injury. Skateboarding is a FAST sport, and stopping or turning to avoid a child is challenging. If an un-helmeted toddler collides with a skater and hits the concrete ground they are going to be seriously injured, and most likely the skater trying to avoid them will be hurt as well. 

I am not suggesting young kids aren't allowed to use the skateparks, my son has been skateboarding since he was 6 years old. I am suggesting lessons, proper equipment, and a clear understanding of code of conduct and skatepark etiquette is required. A skatepark is a place to practice and improve your skills. Anyone making an honest effort to do so has a right to be there. I have NEVER had my child even at 6 years old, told or treated like he was not welcome at a skatepark. In fact many of the more experienced skaters regularly took the time to help him learn and land new tricks. 

There the rant is over, but I think it is important to say. I know I would have trouble sleeping at night if my own or someone's child was injured because I was smug and somehow thought I was above the rules. So to make for that little rant Top of the World has been nice enough to provide me with a Helmet and set of Pads for a giveaway.

FYI: McNabb Skate Park is only open May – Aug. You can help to support these programs and ensure they are available for years to come by donating to the fundraising effort to build a permanent outdoor skate park to accompany the seasonal indoor park at Top of the World 1 Square Foot McNabb Skatepark Fundraising Campaign or at Top of the World at 158 Rideau St. Ottawa.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about skateboarding safety equipment, lessons and park etiquette.


  1. I commented on Please use your @Belkin @WeMo Insight Switch responsibly ... #review and I am Honey What if

  2. Skateboarding is an extreme sport that has gained a growing amount of media coverage during the past decade. As a result, skateboarding in the United States has become more popular than ever before and the importance of skateboard lessons in Chicago is being increased.

  3. I live outside Ottawa and will be able to pick up the prize in person. Great review and thanks for hosting.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

  4. I would be able to pick it up! Both of my boys (3.5 and 7) want to learn to skateboard. I have hesitated so far because we just don't have the money for lessons at the moment, and I want them to know how to do it properly.....

  5. I'm in Ottawa, so no problem! :)

  6. The origin of skateboarding lies deep past in the history. The use of skateboards started first during the 1940s. But, at that time it was used mainly for fun. It was used mainly for transportation purposes. The kids used to move around on these skateboards. Gradually, skateboarding gained enormous popularity among the people

  7. I think we get so used to doing something that we forget that accidents happen. I can't imagine how bad it could be without safety gear if I was hit by a car while riding my bike. It's something to keep in mind.

    Anita Mas |