A Northamptonshire skate park design company is backing a national campaign to get local authorities to do more to encourage girls to go skateboarding.
Make Space for Girls is calling on councils to "think again” and do more to create facilities that will encourage more girls to use skate parks.
“In reality skate parks are dominated by boys,” says Make Space for Girls co-founder and trustee Imogen Clark. “85% of skateboarders are male, and girls can find it really intimidating to go into these spaces.”
Clark is a former lawyer and one of the reasons she set up the charity is because of this kind of discrimination. She believes the way teenage girls aren’t considered in parks isn’t just unequal and unfair, it can also be challenged under the Equality Act 2010.
“Where council facilities disadvantage girls, the Public Sector Equality Duty (part of the Equality Act 2010) requires then to proactively consider how to reduce that disadvantage. The data is clear: teenage girls are disadvantaged, compared to teenage boys, when it comes to skate parks. We are calling on councils to comply with their legal duty to consider how to reduce that.”
Make Space for Girls surveyed 110 girl skateboarders from across the country, and over 80 per cent said that they timed their visits for when the skate park is quiet.
Nearly 70 per cent said that some boys made them feel as though they shouldn’t be on the skate park
Make Space for Girls have two suggestions. First, councils shouldn’t assume that a skate park is the only answer.
"When you ask teenagers,” says the charity’s other co-founder Susannah Walker, “skateboarding often isn’t top of their list. They want spaces to hang out and meet their friends.”
The second is that if councils do build a skate park, they need to create something much more inclusive. Make Space for Girls have been working with designer Elliot Hamilton from Wheelscape based in Brackley to design a skatepark which works for everyone.
Based on research from Europe and the input of girl skateboarders in the UK, the design has space for beginners to practice, architecture and colour, a cafe and room for every kind of wheeled sports.