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A TEN Out of Ten Skateboarding Journey
LS-TEN skatepark is the home of 'wheeled sports' in Leeds. Elsie and Ro share their experiences of being coaches who support young people develop in their own way.
by Ian Slattery
In an industrial estate on the edge of Leeds city centre, a huge warehouse converted into a skatepark is the setting for an inspirational set of coaches, leaders and volunteers that use ‘wheeled sports’ to reduce inequality and raise aspirations.
That means they aren’t simply bringing in talented skateboarders and BMX or scooter riders, giving them some coaching and letting them ride for a couple of hours. The LS-TEN team are built to work with young people who might face challenges at home or school, as well as anyone who sees the skatepark as a place to clear their head, to be their true selves.
With sessions that include after school clubs, community groups, youth offending sessions and youth clubs, the skills employed by the coaches as LS-TEN are built around interpersonal relationships, trust and empathy. Yet, as niche as those sessions might sound, the pillars of successful coaching still come back to the Play Their Way fundamentals of Voice, Choice and Journey.
We caught up with two of the LS-TEN coaches, Elsie and Ro, at a midweek youth club hosted at the skatepark. They explained that the nature of skateboarding as an activity can help to reach some young people who are put off by more traditional, competitive sports.
It’s more for those kids that maybe, are more isolated or do different things, so it’s nice that it offers them an activity to focus on,”
Elsie, Skateboarding Coach at LS-TEN
Club Case Study: LS-Ten Skatepark
Everybody is welcome
When coaching children who have been put off other sports, or traditional educational settings, for whatever reason, clearly understanding where they’re coming from and where you can help them get to – their journey – is crucial. It’s that part of the role at LS-TEN that allow the coaches to have maximum impact.
“Our role here isn’t just as a skateboard teacher,” Elsie said. “There’s obviously a lot more that comes with working with vulnerable young people.”
Giving the young people a voice to tell their story or explain their motivations is the only way to help them get the most out of their time at LS-TEN, and central to that is building trust.
I’d say I’ve got a really nice relationship with [the young people], and they think of me as someone they can trust,”
Ro, Skateboarding Coach at LS-TEN
It's about having fun
The other crucial element to these sessions is making sure every has fun and wants to come back again – something the team are clearly doing well as they’ve had to cap numbers to avoid over-crowding on the skatepark.
Elsie enthused that, “I want them to go away feeling like they’ve learned something! But the first thing is just making sure they’ve had a good time and that they’ve got something out of it and they go away with a smile on their face.”
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