Skateboarding is coming to P.E. class

It’s gnar — a word that I just recently learned means cool if you are a skateboarder. So imagine learning to do an ollie in school rather than shooting hoops or spiking a ball.

A skateboard organization called Pour It On is raising money to buy skateboarding equipment for the Charleston School of Math and Science so the school can offer skateboarding in its fall physical education classes.

It’s part of the “New P.E.” movement across the country that allows students to experience different forms of exercise from the traditional sports that are offered.

About 200 people packed the Hope and Union Coffee Shop at 199 St. Philip St. last Thursday to raise money through artwork and a silent auction. The stars of the show were skate decks painted by local contributors, hung on the walls like fine paintings. Think pop art constrained by a narrow wood board, and you get the idea.

Ryan Cockrell, executive director of Pour It On, said the organization raised about $3,200 of the $5,000 needed to start the program.

“Skateboarding teaches a lot of skills. It’s an independent, yet together type of sport. It teaches persistence to try something over and over again, one of life’s biggest lessons.”

But P.E. class? The class with endless jumping jacks, kickball and volleyball? Skateboarding?

When school starts in the fall, it will be joining other schools across the country that have introduced the sport, but it may be the first in South Carolina. The curriculum from Skate Pass meets the National Association for Sport and Physical Education activity guidelines, national standards for physical education and all school safety requirements. And best of all, it can be taught by nonskateboarding teachers.

“The program is very basic,” says Cockrell.

It teaches kids which foot to lead with, how to turn and how to do some basic moves. Teachers can opt to teach one unit or three units, depending on the interest, and it can be taught to all levels. The money raised by Pour It On will be for boards, helmets and pads for 30 kids. The class can be taught in the gym or outside, and safety concerns are built into the curriculum.

Skateboarding is so popular, Cockrell says, that it surpasses baseball. He cited the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association for the figures. In the city of Charleston, that means that there are more than 5,700 skaters, spread out in neighborhoods all over town.

Because the sport is becoming so popular, Pour It On usually advocates for community skateboard parks like the one under consideration in Summerville. The organization wants to see as many skateboard parks as there are youth sports fields.

“Every neighborhood needs a skateboard park,” Cockrell says. It keeps kids from using public facilities as ramps and allows people the opportunity to cheer each other on as they attempt a move, he adds.

Despite a few falls, Cockrell says, skateboarding is really a lifestyle or an art form as much as a sport even though it has a daredevil reputation. Skateboarding falls within the guidelines that schools set out for sports.

“Everyone worries about the liability, but the liability is the same as anything else. Skateboarding is statistically safer than most traditional sports,” Cockrell says.

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