From the age of six Bailey Te Maipi was hooked on skateboarding.

But by the age of 13 when she started high school, she found herself the only girl at the skatepark.

Losing confidence to go by herself, it wasn't until Bailey was 20 years old that she met another girl her age who had also loved skating as a kid.

"We both had longboards but decided to get back into skateboarding and went and bought a board each," Bailey said.

Advertisement

Rekindling her love for skating with an ally to join her, Bailey wanted other girls to find the same enjoyment in it, have confidence, and not be intimidated going to skateparks.

Bailey Te Maipi is helping girls gain confidence skateboarding by providing free lessons and programmes in schools. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Bailey Te Maipi is helping girls gain confidence skateboarding by providing free lessons and programmes in schools. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Falling into a job with OnBoard Skate, a company with the same ethos as her own in 2018, Bailey is now running free skateboarding sessions for girls in Kāpiti to teach them to skate and have confidence to take part in the largely male-dominated sport.

"It's about starting them out when they're young and fearless, and creating a space to conquer the fear when they're a little older."

The sessions are not just about learning to skate but about developing the girls as people too.

OnBoard Skate runs programmes from Palmerston North to Wellington with Bailey running events in all the areas in between including the Hutt and Kāpiti.

"I want to give those who can't afford it a go. Boards can get a bit expensive if you want a good one that lasts so we provide all the sessions and gear for free, including safety gear."

Starting sessions in schools next term, Bailey will be bringing her programmes into primary schools around the Kāpiti region early in the term and going into Kāpiti College, Paraparaumu College and Ōtaki College later in the term.

Free skateboarding sessions in Kāpiti are proving popular with young girls.
Free skateboarding sessions in Kāpiti are proving popular with young girls.

"The high schools are my main focus in Kāpiti because the primary school kids love it but the older girls don't like going to the skatepark by themselves.

Advertisement

"People see it as an individual sport, but it's collective and social. You need to have other people around you, creating these communities is important."

Bailey is focusing on bringing together the girls who want to continue after the school programme, connecting them, taking them to different skateparks, to Zeal, and helping them form their own group so they can be independent.

"Our goal is to develop the girls into leaders and to help boost their confidence, especially in the teenage girls.

"I want the girls to take charge and learn leadership skills along with having fun."

When asked why the sessions are just for girls, Bailey said, "Skateboarding is perceived as a male sport that doesn't necessarily welcome women with open arms and can be very intimidating for a young girl to head down to a skatepark by themselves.

"I started when I was six, am now 24, and I'm still not super comfortable with skating alone at a skatepark.

Advertisement

"So these sessions are aimed at girls in order for them to gain the confidence to skate at a skatepark, develop their skills, as well as meet other girls to skate with.

"Apparently you need to prove yourself if you're a girl at a skatepark to show you're not just there for looks.

"A skatepark is everyone's space, doing the girls-only session allows a group of girls to build up their skills so they can go and compete with the boys instead of being turned away from the park and being intimidated by them."

Having run fortnightly sessions since lockdown, 28 girls showed for the last session at Maclean Park, Paraparaumu Beach.

"The demand in the sport is growing and the growth I've seen in the girls over the last few weeks is huge – their confidence has grown, and they're now helping each other out and getting to know each other too."

With skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport and a College Sport Wellington competition now up and running, there are more opportunities within the sport.

Advertisement

As for Bailey, "I'm still buzzing out that this is my job".

"Me as a little six-year-old would never have imagined that I would get paid to skate and teach girls to skate.

"My dream when I was little was to be a skateboarder or a footballer and now I get paid to skate."

The next session is this Saturday at Maclean Park. To get involved, visit Girls Skate Kapiti on Facebook.