The Health Impacts of a Skatepark: A Case Story
City Heights, a community of lower-income, predominantly Latino neighborhoods in the Mid-City area of San Diego, California had an estimated 1,800 youth who enjoy the sport of skateboarding. But City Heights had far less parks space than the rest of San Diego County, and the closest dedicated public skatepark was more than four miles away. As a result, skaters were forced to skate on streets, sidewalks, and other public property, which is unsafe for skaters.
What we did
HIP worked with the Youth Council of Mid-City CAN, a non-profit group serving the community, to conduct an HIA of the health effects of building a skatepark on a vacant lot near a public park, a soon to be vacant YMCA, and an elementary school, using state grant funds.
In the street you just injure yourself because it is not a safe place to skate – there are things that will get in your way and make you fall. In the city there are just too many different things that could hurt you. It’s dangerous.
What we found
A new public skatepark in City Heights would provide hundreds of youth with more opportunity for exercise, social connection, and development, all of which lead to better health and well-being. It would also mean safer streets, less crime, and fewer injuries compared to other sports such as football and basketball.
Released in 2014, Mid-City CAN used the HIA to make the case to the City Council, local residents, and news media for the benefits of the proposed skatepark and to dispel myths about the sport’s safety and reputation. The City Council approved the idea, the state awarded funding, and design plans moved forward near the end of 2014. Construction is expected to start in 2016. The San Diego Section of the American Planning Association selected the Youth Council for an award in recognition of their participation in the HIA and civic engagement efforts to create communities of lasting value.
It shows that we have a voice, that we can accomplish anything we want in our community as long as we put the effort to it. It’s good for the youth knowing that adults aren’t just making the decisions, that youth have a say as well.