ONE of the most requested Christmas gifts for boys and girls in 2011 was skateboards.
Specifically Pennys and ZFlex skateboards.
Skateboards have always been popular here on the Northern Rivers, both as a leisure activity and a means of transport, but in recent years their popularity has increased.
These days you would be hard pressed to find a kid who doesn't have or want one.
Jai Lewan, who owns and runs Byron Bay Skateboard Coaching and has been skating for more than twenty years, says the past twelve months have seen a resurgence in the popularity of skateboarding, and, in particular, the old-school style of cruising and trick boards.
"Here on the east coast there is definitely a real surf and skate culture. It's unusual to meet a kid who doesn't either skate or surf," Jai said.
"It's a fun sport, and it's one you can learn at your own pace.
"It's great for building confidence, it teaches patience, and it's great for general fitness.
"It's also a really good activity for those boys who have too much energy.
"It's good for burning up all that energy.
"The other great thing about skateboarding is that you can do it anywhere, whether you are doing tricks, cruising or longboarding, you just jump on your board and off you go."
Jai says the Northern Rivers has some fantastic skate parks, but beginner skaters and their parents need to know some basics before they hit the decks.
"The most important thing for a beginner is to wear the safety gear; the helmet, wrist guards, knee guards and elbow guards.
"It's a good idea to get some basic skills up on a flat surface before you hit the skate park.
"Once you start at the skate parks it's really important to pay attention to what's going on around you."
Jai says our region has many great skate parks, all with something to offer.
Tips for Beginners
- Always wear protective gear
- Take a lesson or a clinic to learn the basics
- Get your skills up on a flat surface before tackling the skate parks
- When you are at a skate park, pay attention to everything going on around you
Most Popular Skate parks
Nimbin: Great for more advanced riders. Usually plenty of room. Pool right next door to cool off in.
Ballina: Big park with something for skaters of every level. Gets very busy during peak times.
Mullumbimby: One of the region's most popular parks. Something for every level. Also good for BMXs.
Brunswick Heads: The new skate park at Brunswick was a long time coming and it's worth the wait. Good intermediate park. Gets busy at evenings.
Suffolk Park: A smaller park but a great place for beginners. A nice, relaxed vibe, and the basketball court beside it is a good place to practice skills on the flat.