A Case Study

Marshall Laing Primary
Marshall Laing Primary/Using skateboarding to improve students personal and social responsibility.



OnBoard Skate was established in 2012 as a way to use play-based learning - through skateboarding - to bring about positive personal and social change in individuals and communities. We believe that skateboarding can provide significant physical, psychological and social benefits to children and young people, particularly those that are feeling excluded and marginalised from traditional, competitive environments found in schools, work and organised sports. 




A place where everybody is free to achieve everything they are capable of achieving. Where there is an even playing field for everybody, no matter their background, gender, race, sexual orientation, physical or mental capability. Everyone is welcome and included. 




1. Empowerment

2. Freedom

3. Facilitation 




The aim of our ‘Skatesafe’ learn to skateboard programme is to promote student’s health and physical wellbeing through movement and skill, identify potential risks and hazards in the environment and modifying behaviour to mitigate hazards.


As well we use students' active participation in practical skateboarding activities to teach and develop their personal and social responsibility skills.



The primary purpose of this interview is to use the feedback from a school sports coordinator to advocate for the establishment of skateboarding in schools as a legitimate active recreation option, available to students during and/or after school time. The following value themes identified in this case study summarise some of the reasons why schools may want to consider doing this. 




To ascertain the impact of our programme OnBoard Skate CEO – Steve Hodges – conducted face-to-face interview with Marshall Laing Primary Co-ordinator Shenelle Lobo. The objectives of the interview were to find out from her:


  1. What impact our Kiwisport in-school skateboard programme and subsequent Skateboard Ambassador programme has had on the personal and social development of her students.

  2. Whether there had been any positive change in the children’s level of engagement in their school activities and classwork.

  3. What affect our delivery model philosophy has had on her students’ level of engagement in active recreation. 




This section summarises the value responses as they relate to the in-school skateboard programme and is based on the responses given by Shenelle under the heading of each of the key value themes. 




We began the interview by asking Shenelle to describe to us her observations on the student’s levels of engagement in the skateboarding sessions and whether the sessions had a positive impact on student confidence and willingness to engage in (for many of them) an unfamiliar recreation activity.


“I have definitely noticed with my class a lot of them have built a lot of confidence …  because they have learnt how to ride it safely.  They have learnt how to stop safely so that confidence … its really good, to see, especially with my two less resilient boys, one of whom doesn’t do any sport at all. But in these sessions, he has put on the gear and tried to skateboard”.


“I’ve also got a boy with (disability). At first, I said to Martin (Instructor), "look I’m not too sure about him, because he’s uncoordinated". But now, he’s getting all his gear on by himself. He’s riding the board by himself and he’s giving it a go, and it’s so good to see that happening. It's especially good to see some of my girls giving it a go as well …it’s so good to see them all participating”.


“My reluctant boy … We did basketball and other things, but he would sit down because he’s afraid of judgement. He’s afraid of other people looking at him and going “"oh letting the team down”, but skateboarding is so independent he can focus on himself and work on his goals”.


“I have a really quiet boy who really keeps to himself. Skateboarding is one of his most favorite sports.  It’s really good to see him step up and help other people as well”.



Despite initial reluctance from some students to give skateboarding a try, as the weeks progressed all students were willing to participate in all sessions. Once involved, students of all abilities demonstrated high levels of self-motivation and a willingness to apply themselves to the exploration of new and unfamiliar challenges. This took courage and persistence when the going got tough, but all students were willing to give it their best, despite the potential for failure. Not having to compete with or against others has contributed positively to the growth and development of student’s self- confidence. Rather than having their success being judged and defined by others, students define internally what success means to them. They become task-involved instead of outcome-involved. Students define their success in terms of participation, improvement and mastery in skateboarding tasks. Success in other words depends on their own efforts and not on an externally imposed outcome, e.g. winning.


Skateboard instructors, in their demeanor and the way they interact with the students during the sessions, contributes to the positive learning environment and engagement of students.

 “Martin (skateboard instructor) has been great with them.  He makes it very casual, very inviting. It’s not a lot of pressure coming from him, going … “You have to do it!”. He just casually goes “Hey come on, let’s pick up the skateboard, let’s go”, so it’s good to have that calm manner that he has with the kids.




The skateboard instructor’s ability to help students positively experience the programme content has countered any self-defeating attitudes and behaviours. As a result, students have become more self-motivated and courageous when trying unfamiliar skills and challenges. This success is due to the role our instructors play as facilitators of learning, as opposed to the traditional role of coaches in organised sports, who often get distracted by external outcomes such as winning games and trophies, to the detriment of participants’ diverse experiences.




“In terms of integration, we are starting an inquiry unit next term called movement. James (teacher) has put together a few resources to get the kids thinking about how skateboards move in relation to the science of movement”.


“I know with my class skateboarding has inspired them in their writing. Especially for the boys I have noticed writing is more exciting for them”.




Linking skateboarding to class work is one way in which the students have been able to transfer the skills they have learnt in the practical skateboard sessions to an outside setting. This has had a big impact on boy’s levels of engagement in class work. By referencing skateboarding in their writing, boys have demonstrated a greater willingness to engage in academic work. Because skateboarding is something they can relate to and have a strong interest in they are more confident and motivated to write about their experiences from the practical sessions. 




“The girls are more cautious with the skateboarding. They take their time, whereas the boys just go whizzing past”.


“I think the boys are definitely supportive of the girls.  They still stick to themselves but it’s good to see them being respectful of each other’s space”


“Their support and cooperation is a lot better. Martin (Instructor) set up them well in terms of how to flow around the space, but the kids self-govern eventually, and they communicate amongst themselves and have a lot of patience as everyone learns the rules”.




To become proficient at skateboarding you must be prepared to take responsibility for your own learning. More so than if you were participating in an organised team sport, where the coach tends to control most of the activities. To facilitate this our sessions are structured in such a way that students are given greater autonomy so that they can develop the skills and confidence to take on more personal responsibility for their own learning and well-being. We believe that by devolving responsibility for learning to the students and empowering them to explore, create and innovate when riding the skateboard, that they will be more intrinsically motivated and build greater confidence and courage to persist when things get difficult.


As well as being responsible for their own well being, our skateboarding sessions also require students to be aware of and supportive of other people, especially when skateboarding in a group. This is particularly important when boys and girls are skateboarding together.


While boys have tended to "stick together" when skateboarding in a mixed group, they have managed to contribute to the well-being of others less skilled and confident than them, and are happy to participate with girls. This is able to happen because of the individual nature of skateboarding, where the students are independent and task-focused. This means that success is defined by the individual’s efforts not the outcome or result of a contest. Without the external pressure of competing, the students are more inclined to cooperate and support the efforts of others around them to improve.



“I’ve got boys that have stepped up. “


“They are looking at people around them and helping and guiding them.”


“A girl fell over and she was in tears. Nothing serious but a whole lot of girls surrounded her going "are you alright?" and helping her.” 




The non-competitive and non-judgmental nature of skateboarding makes it easier for participants to cooperate and assist others with their learning and development. This occurs because skateboarders are not competing against each other for "game time" as is common in organised, competitive team sports. Just as importantly children are more confident and willing to undertake greater risks, be more innovative and creative and express their individuality more often because they don't have the added pressure of having to achieve external outcomes set by others. 




OnBoard Skate's ‘skateboarding for education’ programme provides an alternative option for the delivery of active recreation (and sport) to children and youth in school and communities. We believe this model better meets the needs of today's generation of young people, who are seeking greater independence and control of how they participate in sport and recreation. Young people want to have fun and feel empowered. Research shows time again that the hyper-competitiveness of organised sport excludes less talented children from participating. This is contributing to children dropping out or not participating in sport and recreation and resulting in the decline in the physical levels of children and youth today.  


In this case study, we have provided evidence that our skate programme improves, not only the physical, but also the social and academic outcomes for children.