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Praise for active young pals as skate campaign goes on

A group of young Swansea skateboarders has been praised by health professionals for keeping active during the pandemic.

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The boys have kept busy - whilst adhering to government restrictions - by skateboarding and biking near their homes.

Officers from Swansea Council's sport and health team say they have set a good example to others.

Wendy Anderson, the council'sactive young people co-ordinator, said: "Their energy and enthusiasm for an active lifestyle is an inspiration to us all.

"Some people think that our younger generations spend all their time in front of screens with video games - but this group shows that that's not the case.

"In the past we've helped them remain active through our ParkLives initiative and, although that was temporarily halted due to government restrictions, we'll help them in the future too."

The boys are behind the Bishopston Skatepark Project, a proposed space for children to meet, socialise and have fun in a safe, free-to-use environment.

Last year they conducted a public survey. During lockdown they held online meetings. They're now working with the council's Crowdfund Swansea initiative.

ParkLives has previously provided skating sessions at Bishopston Primary School. The team hope to host more sessions with the backing of the school.  

Jake Gates, aged 14, is a member of the skatepark group. He said: "I've been keeping my healthy active lifestyle by skateboarding and biking in my local community.

"This has helped me loads with my well-being. When the Caswell Bay car park was temporarily closed to traffic, loads of kids and adults went skateboarding there; although we socially distanced it was like a community park!"

Elliott Wadley, aged 14, said: "While school was temporarily closed I tried to do as much cycling as possible in line with government restrictions.

"I visited dirt pump tracks like the one in Clyne - and cycled long distance.

"Staying healthy has been a vital part of recent months for me and I feel that we all now need to help communities get back together.

"Public spaces, especially those outdoors, will be really useful when it comes to rebuilding those vital social connections."

Jed Wood, aged 14, said: "I've kept fit and healthy by surfing, mountain biking and skateboarding. This has really helped my mental health and well-being."

Jed's brother Ianto Wood, aged 12, said: "Skating has given me something to do. I've missed going to the Exist skatepark in town because it's been temporarily closed. I decided to generate support for Exist and raising more than £500 for it by doing 1,000 ollies - or jumps with the skateboarding without using my hands."

Robert Francis-Davies, the council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "This has been a challenging few months so it's encouraging to see Swansea's young people taking the initiative to stay active and healthy. It's also good to see that ParkLives is making a return. Like all council services it is here for Swansea."

Swansea ParkLives coordinator Kirsty Gough said: "ParkLives strives to immerse itself within local communities to provide free and accessible activities for all. 

"When meeting this group of young skaters it's clear they have a passion for the sport. We look forward to working with this group again in the future."

Swansea Bay area active young people officer Mark Evans said: "We look forward to supporting the boys and others with more free skate sessions in the coming months."

For the final two weeks of the summer holidays the council's ParkLives programme provided free activities in parks encouraging people to be active and enjoy the green spaces in their local community.

The summer programme included a range of fun activity sessions designed to be welcoming for people of all ages and abilities. The hour-long timetabled activities were led by supportive session leaders and by volunteers from local communities.

All sessions were held in line with government restrictions.

ParkLives https://www.swansea.gov.uk/parklives

Bishopston Skatepark Project

Photo: From left: Jake Gates, Elliott Wadley and Jed Wood.

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