On March 31st in Brande, Denmark something remarkable is happening: The blading competition RAM JAM is hosting more kids than adults! So far there has been registered more than 40 kids attending the competition. So you might ask: How come these kids suddenly want to blade? And how can I make this happen in my town?
Words: Michael Buhl Jonassen
Photography: David Grant, Ronni Skovmand
The answer to these questions are that the kids did not arrive suddenly. The sudden popularity with the kids came from persistent hard work. Not hard skating or big tricks… but hard organizing work.
These past 5 or 6 years the Danish skate scene has run out of new blood. The ones who were into skating shifted to music, skiing, surfing or simply just left. And not only the old boys who had enough, also the younger generation moved out. Therefore, in the last few years the Danish skate scene has focused on getting more kids into the sport.
RAD has been making an effort with Blade Days to get new kids to try out skates, and this years junior sensation Ram Jam is also hosted by the Danish non-profit organisation. RAD is known for hosting great events all year in Denmark. The Real Street Copenhagen competition (one of the longest running from 2000 until now), Blade Days the event for kids and their parents – and other wheeled sports, as well as other various small local street events. The main thing that drives RAD is its connection to DKRUL.dk, the Danish governmental department for wheeled sports. This ensures that RAD has a budget to use and collaborates with other sports. This makes networking and money raising much easier.
Jacob Juul has made a big impact with his “Inline Skateundervisning” rollerblading school. He and the other teachers have a good crowd of kids practicing every week. Jacob’s lessons are a key component in the development of new talent.
Urban Street Zone Brande and its great new skate park, which is built for rollerblading, with kid’s lessons and a good foundation of older bladers helping everything getting coordinated, is a vital component in the triangle between RAD and Jacob’s skate school. Urban Street Zone has made a purpose build skatepark for bladers from scratch. Most of the builders are old rollerbladers themselves and has build the whole park so that their kids have somewhere decent to skate. This is important because this gives the new bladers a place to meet old bladers. And this makes for a steady community with a common place to meet. Especially in the winter time this is important because a harsh Danish winter kills a lot blading. If you miss a winter of blading chances are low that you will skate again the following summer. Hard but true facts.
So the model is pretty simple. Get an organisation going that makes events. Follow those events up with teaching and make it so that there are skateparks to meet and practice in. It turns out that all you need is having the older generation stepping up, building some ramps and organising some blading. It’s pretty simple and pretty easy, but surprisingly few do it.
An interesting observation to this is that the skatepark is key to sustaining a healthy community. If you are skating street it’s very hard to meet. It’s even harder to meet new people. And it’s very very hard to meet new people, carry skates and organize things that will bring new bladers to the sport. To get something to happen in the streets that will make people try out blading is damn near impossible. Except if you meet someone with the same size skates and give him yours of course…
Hopefully this article will help you guys copy the recipe and do the same.
And remember: Doing nothing is doing something!
So you might as well get busy, organize, risk it and perhaps do something cool for the kids.
See you at RAM JAM on the 31. of March.