Since it first rose to prominence in the 1970s, skateboarding has evolved into something more than a pastime – it has become a way of life.
Jak Tonge, of Fareham, knows that as well as anyone.
The 26-year-old has been skating professionally for years, and now wants to pass on his passion for the sport to the next generation.
Jak says he thinks skateboarding has a universal appeal.
‘There’s no age bracket and it doesn’t matter where you are from,’ he says.
‘It’s one of the most fun activities to be had. Anyone can get involved in skating.’
Jak is in the process of setting up a business called JDP Skateboarding Workshops, and hopes to work with schools and councils across Hampshire to organise events where youngsters can learn to skate.
He already teaches workshops at the Wicor Recreation Ground at Portchester on Sunday mornings and hopes to expand the programme.
Jak said he is hoping to work with youngsters aged five and over, and says there will a strong focus on the safety aspects of skateboarding and using a skatepark.
‘Kids have always been able to learn to skate on their own,’ he says.
‘We did that as well and we fell off a fair few times.
‘But often skateparks have developed in such a way that they’re more dangerous than they used to be.
‘We figured that there’s nobody really around to help these kids learn how to use a skatepark.
‘They’re often getting so big that you need some lessons from someone who knows what they’re doing to show you how it’s done.
‘So what we want to do is provide kids with an opportunity to learn with the professionals, and if they saw that opportunity as a good thing, then all the better.’
The workshops teach youngsters how to set up their skateboards, and also about ramp co-ordination and skatepark health and safety.
Jak says he was inspired to kickstart the school after a recent visit to Australia, where he saw a similar concept at work.
‘Their approach is to teach kids all around Australia, around the outskirts of the towns, and all the councils are really keen to get them involved.
‘So I worked on a brief together with some friends to bring it back to England.’
Jak has been a professional skateboarder over the past decade working with groups including Drawing Boards and Team Extreme, taking part in competitions, putting on demonstrations and teaching others how to skate.
He is working with a team of about 10 other keen skaters in Hampshire and Brighton to get the skateboarding workshops up and running.
‘At the moment we’re in talks with schools and councils to let them know what we’re doing.
‘You get kids that come down with their parents, but often they don’t really understand the rules or the hazards that there so often are.
‘So what we really want to do is teach kids how to go around their skatepark safely first of all and then introduce them to tricks at a later stage.
‘Skateparks have been coming on really strongly over the past couple of years and there is now really a massive number of parks all across Hampshire.’
Learning to balance on your board, says Jak, is the most fundamental thing to learn about skateboarding.
‘Once you learn how to balance,’ he says, ‘you can start to learn about everything else, like where to position your feet and how to transfer your weight when on top of the board.’
Other fundamental things to learn on a skateboard are how to slow down and stop, as well as how to reverse your feet and ride in the opposite direction, which is called a ‘switch’. Jak says ‘switching’ leads to a different type of skating.
‘When you start skating the other way around you actually trigger a different part of your brain and you start doing things differently,’ he says.
‘It’s similar to when you draw with your left hand if you’re right-handed, you can start to access a more creative part of your brain.’
Jak says the act of skating is in itself a creative process that helps to stimulate young minds.
‘I think it’s good for kids to learn that sort of thing because it helps to boost their creative nature.’
Jak also makes his own skateboards using parts of a discarded ply from old boards, sticking them together and creating new patterns.
‘I’d also like to make that part of the workshops,’ he says.
At a glance
WHERE: Jak and Pete host workshops at the Wicor Recreational ground skate park on Sunday mornings and plan to expand to other venues.
WEB: Search for JDP Workshops on facebook.com
PHONE: 075 3810 8804
10 facts about skateboarding
1. Apart from Portchester and the new facility in Fareham, other skateparks around the area can be found at Southsea Common, Leesland Park in Gosport, Lee-on-the-Solent and Emsworth.
2. Southsea Skatepark lays claim to being the oldest skatepark in the world, with the current rink dating back to a roller rink that was first built back in the 1950s. The skatepark was remodelled in the 1970s with concrete features including bowls and a snake-run and modified again in 1990 with a new bowl replacing the old reservoir.
3. Skateboarding was invented in California by surfers in the early 1950s who wanted something to do when the waves were flat. The activity was initially known as sidewalk surfing. The first skaters copied surfing moves and rode barefoot.
4. The first off-the-shelf skateboard was the Roller Derb, which went on sale in 1959. Its wheels were made of clay.
5. The US marines actually experimented with the use of skateboards in the late 1990s. The idea was to use them in urban environments to detect sniper fire and tripwires.
6. The best-known skateboarding trick is probably the Ollie, a simple jump once called a ‘no-hands aerial’. it was invented by an American skater called Alan Ollie Gelfand.
7. In Norway, skateboarding was considered so dangerous that it was banned altogether from 1978 to 1989. In defiance, some skateboarding fans constructed ramps in secluded areas like forests.
8. Although it is often seen as a male-dominated activity, women have been involved in skateboarding from the start. The first female professional skateboarder was Patti McGee, who became the National Girls’ Champion in the US in 1965.
9. The most famous skateboarder in the world is Tony Hawk, who helped pioneer ‘vert skateboarding’ – which is all about performing tricks in the air.
10.Although it may not be an obvious answer, the most common part of the body to suffer injuries when skating is the wrist. Wrist guards are available along with other safety gear including helmets, knee and elbow pads.