Monday, November 16, 2009

The Decisions We Make

The decisions we make have consequences, and because there are no legal places to skate in all of downtown Silver Spring, skaters are essentially criminalized for doing something completely innocent and something that keeps them active and healthy. Large numbers of teens are struggling with obesity, depression, and inactivity — 16% of American teens are obese, about 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood, and 65% don't meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. But skaters tend to pursue their sport at every opportunity, skaters are happy when they're skating, and skateboarding provides them a ready group of friends and thriving social lives.

As 14 y.o. Chris "PacMan" Santis said at a recent meeting, regarding the people he skates with — "we're family". That's how a lot of skaters feel about each other. Skateboarders exemplify so many of the traits we should be encouraging in kids. They don't care about what race other skaters are. They don't care about what their backgrounds or religions are, or what neighborhoods they come from, or whether they're underprivileged or wealthy.

While many people who don't skate seem to think of it as a very solitary activity, it's anything but that. The saddest sight for me to see is a lone skater roaming the streets in search of a group to skate with.

On my Facebook status I recently posted "skateboarding = happiness". Quite a few skaters clicked the "like" button because that's how many of them feel. Is it really that difficult to allow these kids to do something that makes them so happy? Is it really that difficult to choose to help them and not harass them?

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