Skateboarding lore may claim midnight runs in empty California swimming pools during the 70’s as its genesis, but skateboarding has definitely grown into a mainstream sport for the current generation. Skating gear, skate-themed toys and video games, even skateboard lingo are simply part of everyday life for the Y2K crowd. No wonder why the little lot is so keen to try out this sweet sport! So whether they ride regular or goofy foot, let the kiddos carve, grind and kick flip their way through a sick (that’s skateboarder slang for awesome) summer with the 12 And Under free (as in zero dinero) skateboarding program. It’s time to shred!
Skate Like a Girl’s 12 and Under program (serving both girls and boys) started at one skate park in 2009, and has since expanded to six different locations. And in recent years, volunteer instructors from the Youth Employment Skateboarding (YES) program have been added to teach their off the hook moves to the next generation of skaters. The YES teen skateboarders learn leadership skills while sharing their passion with younger boarders in the community. Talk about a win-win partnership for everyone involved! And since it’s kids teaching kids, a little extra validity goes into everything being taught. So long mom, coaching on the sides. You’ve been replaced by the real deal! After all, what’s cooler than a real skater teaching real tricks, in the eyes of a mini-skater? But don’t stray too far, parents, because your tiny boarder will be eager to share new tricks before you know it.
What to Expect
12 and Under is a must-try program for little ones who spend their afternoons eyeing the big kids performing off the hook tricks at the local skate park, mesmerized by the magic, to the point of bypassing the nearby playground. And it’s meant to give these kids a taste of skating before mom and dad make a full-on investment in the sport. It’s like ordering tapas when you can’t decide on a main course, all the yummy without the commitment. Although the program is open to kids of all ages, it works best for the 3 and up crowd because they’ve got the coordination and focus to really learn something at the classes. Aspiring shredders will spend the first hour learning to fall (for real!) because once they’ve got that down, they’ll be ready to try out the good stuff. From there, what they learn is up to them. From the basic, basic to some sweet tricks, each newbie will find his or her speed (and balance!) during these weekly sessions. And who knows where this program will take your little one? One former participant now competes at the national (and soon to be international) level at the age of 7. Now that’s tight!
When to Go
The classes meet weekly from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and the little lot can stop by any time between those hours, although attending from start to finish is your best bet for learning. You can attend any or all of the weekly classes. Little skaters will know pretty soon if they’re finding their groove on the mini-decks or not. The idea is to build interest and confidence, so there’s no pressure and no attendance record. Keep in mind that classes are weather dependent, but a little rain won’t put this program on hold. This is Seattle after all! Just check first to see if classes are still going if it’s more than a summer drizzle.
What to Bring
This is the free-est free you’ll ever see. It’s a truly no fuss, come as you are event that’s super easy for busy parents. No gathering gear or snacks or sippies necessary. Just bring yourselves and a sense of adventure to the skatepark nearest you. The mini decks (shorter skateboards for smaller riders), along with the mandatory protective gear (helmets, knee pads and elbow pads), are provided by Snowboard Connection and Manta Ray Skateboards. But, if you’ve got a board, you’d like to ride, or equipment of your own, feel free to bring it along. Delish snacks will be doled out to hungry skaters thanks to Honest Kids, Kind Bars and the Seattle Bagel Bakery. The group’s organizers have thought of everything, so you don’t have to. Easy peasy!
The 12 And Under program will be held at six different skate parks this summer. Here’s a little taste of what you’ll find in each area, beyond a killer class.
Seattle Center: The Seattle Center Saturday classes are a great start to any weekend, and the central location makes this skate park the perfect springboard for post-skating family-centered activities. Between the Children’s Museum, Children’s Theater, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the Pacific Science Center, you’ll be dizzy with decisions about what to do next. Don’t forget to stop for some chow at the Armory after class. It’s a great spot to take five before heading to the next adventure!
Judkins Park: This newly renovated skatespot is the place to be on a sunny Seattle day. Shred all morning at class, and pack a lunch so you can stay to play for the afternoon. The park has plenty of picnic sites where the little ones can fuel up before hitting the playground or the spray park. Don’t forget the bathing suit and sunscreen!
Roxhill Park: Located in West Seattle, this completely renovated park (that just re-opened in April) has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Communal use wheelie toys for the tiniest tots to use on the skate park give little sibs something to do while the Bigs are catching air. And the nearby playground is a welcome distraction when skate time ends. It’s newly constructed, and has just about everything the kiddos crave when it comes to playing. Swings, sandbox, slides, climbing walls and a sweet rope climbing dome will keep everyone entertained after class.
Delridge Playfield: This sweet skate park, also located in West Seattle, has a skating bowl that’s worth the trip. Aspiring skaters can sit along the edge and watch some radical moves, after learning some of their own in the 12 and Under class. After skating, take a break at the playground or pack a suit, and cool off in the nearby wading pool. This playfield’s got it all!
Lower Woodland Park: There’s much ado about something at the Lower Woodland Park skate park. It’s bowls and bowls of fun for young skaters and observers alike! Once you’re done skating, stroll around the lake or take the dogs for a run in the off-leash area. And if you’re up for a walk, head to the north end of the park for playgrounds, beaches and paddle boating. Ah, summer in Seattle in Green Lake!
Jefferson Park: Another newly renovated park, Jefferson Park is a crowd pleaser, no matter what your age. The sizable skate park is a great starting point for a full day of play. The artsy geometric playground is divided for older and younger kiddos so everyone has a chance to play. Two zip lines will keep big kids entertained while the littles run and splash in the spray park on a sunny day. Our favorite feature? The two water slides that work with or without water to keep the tot lot entertained! Families can also take a stroll up the hill and revel in the beauty of the city. Up high on a summer day is the best way to see Seattle!
Locations and Dates
Seattle Center: Saturdays starting June 22
Judkins Park: Thursdays starting July 11
Roxhil Park: Fridays starting July 12
Delridge Playfield: Saturdays starting July 13
Lower Woodland Park: Sundays starting July 14
Jefferson Park: Sundays starting July 14
Good to know: The last day of class will be August 25th at Lower Woodland Park and Jefferson Park
Skate Like A Girl – Under 12 Program
Do you plan to check out this free summer skate program with your little one? Share your experiences with us in a comment below.
Photos thanks to: Nancy at Skate Like a Girl and Terry Reed for Seattle Parks and Recreation