As a parent, one of the biggest heartaches can be watching your child trying to "fit in", especially when it comes to sports participation.
Having watched his son struggle to find the right sport for himself when younger, Steve Hodges was stoked when skateboarding became his thing.
"Lots of kids don't feel confident or comfortable playing the more traditional sports that tend to focus on the 'best athletes'," Hodges said.
In 2012, Hodges and his partner, Janet Sayers, founded OnBoard Skate Incorporated to provide another option for the rising number of children and youth who were being "excluded from traditional organised sports because of its hyper-competitive culture ..."
Hodges believes the learn-to-skateboard programmes his business offers helps to improve the wellbeing of the children they work with.
"Our aim is to provide low-cost programmes and events that are fun, social and non-judgmental," he said. "No one gets left behind [and] each child undertakes progressive challenges as they feel ready."
Part of the programme is to also identify local champions/leaders to help with in-school sessions and outside events.
Isaiah Eagar is a caretaker at two local schools, a dad of two skateboard-crazy boys, and is a bit of a 'thrasher' himself.
When OnBoard Skate was asked to be part of the youth-focused Taitoko Vibes events in the Village Green, "a couple of staff from Levin North school recommended me to Steve to teach kids how to skateboard properly", Eagar said.
Every Wednesday afternoon you'll find Eagar and his boys, Nikau, 11, and Phoenix, 8, along with their friend Blake, 11, down at the Paul Ireland skatepark sharing their love of skateboarding.
"I have always helped kids at skateparks but never had any backing or support. I feel this is a great way for kids to develop their skills and a good way to get outdoors. Just sucks when it rains as there is nowhere dry to go," said Eagar.
Over the past three years, OnBoard Skate has delivered learn-to-skateboard programmes to 20 schools in the Manawatū region – including six schools in Horowhenua district.
Earlier this year Hodges was approached by a staff member from Taitoko School to see if OnBoard Skate could provide a programme that would help with re-engaging some of their students.
Hodges developed School of Shred – a series of weekly skateboard sessions of one hour each, run for six weeks a term – with the aim of helping to improve students' social and academic outcomes through physical activity.
Sourcing funding for this programme through Sport Manawatū, OnBoard Skate was able to provide an experienced skateboarding coach as well as eight portable skate ramps and 20 sets of skateboards and safety equipment to Taitoko school free.
Hodges said the feedback he's received over the years has shown that the transformation young people have gone through while participating in one of OnBoard Skate's programmes has transferred into other parts of their life.
"We're giving them an outlet to do something where they control the learning and outcome ... skateboard culture respects every [individuals] level of learning," Hodges said.
Levin East school recently had the in-school skateboarding programme running, with 250 students from Year 3 to Year 6, and principal Rikki Sheterline said he would definitely encourage other schools to participate.
"One of the biggest passions for a lot of the students in this town is the skatepark, so this was the perfect hook to engage with them and to allow them to share that passion with others at school," Sheterline said.
Hodges' dream is to expand these skateboarding programmes nationwide, so if they sound like something that would be the perfect fit for your school, you can get in contact with him on 021 283 2777 or via email: email@example.com