A Case Study

Waikowhai School, AK
Waikowhai School/See's positive improvements in students academic outcomes thanks to skateboarding.



The primary purpose of this case study is to use the feedback from a school teacher (Treena Brand) to advocate for the establishment of skateboarding in schools as a legitimate sport and 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 school’s may want to consider doing this.


S U M M A R Y   O F   V A L U E  T H E M E S

Personal and social responsibility:

  1. Respecting the rights and feelings of others

  2. Effort and cooperation

  3. Self-direction

  4. Helping others and leadership

  5. Transfer the above skills from the skateboard setting to other settings, e.g. the classroom

Personal growth:

  1. Physical and mental resilience

  2. Self-Confidence

  3. Willingness to undertake new challenges

V A L U E S   F R O M  S K A T E B O A R D I N G  

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

V A L U E   1 :   P E R S O N A L  & S O C I A L  

Respecting the rights and feelings of others:  This relates to the individual’s ability to control their behaviour enough so that they don’t interfere with the other students right to learn or the instructors right to teach. They do this without much prompting by the instructor or teacher and without constant supervision.



"Aidan and Martin are really amazing instructors who really engage with the kids. They are really firm with the rules governing the safety and welfare of the kids and the kids respect that. They don’t want to miss anything, so they just listen to everything the guys say".

E F F O R T   &   C O O P E R A T I O N

Students show respect for others, willingly play, accept challenges, practice fundamental skills under the instructor’s supervision.



"My introduction to the programme was on the one day that I didn’t think the sessions would happen. It was raining and I thought to myself “we’re not going to get much out of skateboarding today”. Because we couldn’t run the sessions outside on the asphalt, Aidan and Martin set up a workshop in the hall where the kids had to work in teams to dismantle a skateboard and put it back together.  Martin showed the students how to take the skateboard components apart and put them back together again, while Aidan divided the students into their teams".


"Once they were in their teams it was fabulous to see the co-operation and the determination to do it, to put it together. But the fact that they’ve got listening skills at the beginning and then they actually went to their teams and they were actually working as teams". 




"I like the way that the skills and attitude that the kids have learnt in the skateboard sessions are transferring over to the classroom. Some of the academic kids who do really well when there is a prize on offer are now stepping up physically and showing real grit and a determination not to quit. It’s been amazing. The turnaround in my children has been phenomenal".




"I am really impressed by the way the children encourage each other. It’s kind of unifying the boys and girls. Some of the kids are great at riding and some of them are not, but its not’s gender related or anything like that, unlike some other sports".


S E L F   D I R E C T I O N

Students show respect and participation but are also able to work without direct supervision. They can identify their own needs and begin to plan and carry out their skateboard learning objectives.



"I just think it is an amazing programme. You were asking earlier about the difference between skateboarding and traditional organised sports. With traditional sports, each player has to be at a similar level to make it work effectively. But with skateboarding, because it is individual you can personalise the teaching and learning so that you meet the separate needs of each child. Most importantly, because the children are learning in a group they are encouraging each other. Also, they compare themselves with others in the group, and this helps motivate them to try harder and not give up. Instead of quitting they are saying to themselves “oh I can actually do that” and so you are changing their mind set to be more resilient and confident".

H E L P I N G   O T H E R S  & L E A D E R S H I P

This relates to a student’s ability to respect others, participate and be self- directed, motivated to extend their sense of responsibility beyond themselves by cooperating, giving support, showing concern and helping.


OnBoard Skate staff observed numerous incidences where children would help other students and step up to take on coaching and leadership roles during the sessions. One example in particular is of a young female student who has taken it upon herself to assist one of her class mates - a special needs (Downs Syndrome) girl - to ride the skateboard whenever her class is participating in the sessions.



V A L U E   2 :   P E R S O N A L G R O W T H




"I am really surprised by all the extra skills that the children have gained since being involved in OnBoard Skate’s programme".

 "This is way beyond what we have had with any other sport in Auckland like badminton and stuff like that. Most of the other sports have just focused on the physical skills and not got into the mental skills, like motivation. I am seeing so many of the children not quit. They are just so dogged and determined to get it. Most importantly they just love it. It is so much fun".




"I love how all the children have given skateboarding a try. At first some of them were really excited about skateboarding and some were quite apprehensive about it. But because it has been so accessible to them, they are now all excited about participating in the sessions".


"I said to Martin (instructor) recently, that Penny skateboards are now on the children’s wish list. They just want to keep riding. They have a whole new “can do attitude”. I’m telling you they’ve just been unlocked with this programme".






"A lot the children haven’t had an opportunity to use this skill set (applying fundamental balance and stability skills while riding a skateboard) before, so the session becomes a level playing field for most of them. It helps that pretty much anyone can get on a skateboard".




"I like that even the small successes are huge in skateboarding. Like the fact that you are just standing on the skateboarding without falling off".

"Every little step is like a big hurdle they overcome and so there are great gains to be made when learning to ride a skateboard".


"I think because it is a solo activity everyone can have their own internal journey. Not everyone has the same ability, but they can all move at different rates and just get through it". "In skateboarding you aren’t relying on anyone else’s skills. Like with badminton, you have to rally back and forth. Well if your partner can’t rally then you are just hitting the shuttle cock across the ground. Or you hit the shuttle cock and it falls to the ground because your partner can’t return it. But in skateboarding it is you and you alone striving to overcome your own physical and mental challenges. And as I said before, the kids regularly encourage each other".


"I filmed them at today’s skateboard session, then when we got back to class I replayed the footage on the big screen. The kids loved it. They were making comments like: “oh my gosh you are amazing. Well done” “I didn’t see you doing that!” Because they were so into their own world (flow) when they were skateboarding, they didn’t notice what others were doing. But what the filming allows is for the children to see another person’s progress. But most importantly they weren’t concerned about comparing themselves to others. Many of the boys said that “it’s not about comparing yourself to another person, it’s comparing yourself to yourself.” This means that they are constantly focusing on achieving their personal best". For example, if you did a tic tac clockwise or anticlockwise and it took you 10 movements to turn full circle, can you do it in less than 10 movements next time. This way you are constantly being challenged to push yourself. I feel this is really sharpening their mental capability.


S K A T E B O A R D I N G  I S  I N C L U S I V E


"In the beginning, I thought that the boys would “get it” (ride the skateboard) quicker than the girls, but the girls have picked it up and now some of them are better skateboarders than the boys. It’s made the boys have to rethink their attitudes towards girls and physical activity. Like, “oh my gosh they can get it faster than me” and “look at them doing it”. But in this environment, where the children are competing against themselves, when they see others trying new things, it challenges them to be like, “well if they can do it, I can do it”.


"The other thing I love, is that it’s so organic. They learn a skill, then they can immediately practice it and then they are challenged to do it a bit harder, or a bit more difficult and then they can practice some more. It’s just so fun and social".


S K A T E B O A R D I N G  C A N  I M P R O V E  E D U C A T I O N



"One of the boys (students in particular has been greatly impacted by the skateboarding sessions. At the moment, we are using what the students have learnt in the skateboard sessions as prompts in their classroom writing exercises. We are doing recounts of building the skateboard or riding the board. As a result, this boy’s ability to write has now been totally transformed because he is writing about something that he is passionate about".

"He loves what he is writing about, and I said to him “you know you could get a career as a skateboard writer, there are skateboard magazines that have people write articles for them”. This just opened up a whole lot of possibilities for him. He never saw himself as a writer before, but when he realised that he could make a career out of writing about skateboarding – something that he was passionate about – his whole attitude just changed. It just blew me away when he wrote his piece of writing as part of our classroom exercise".


I actually cried when I read it because it was so full of emotion. He told me what he was thinking.

This has changed their thinking. Often comparing yourself to others can have a negative effect on your performance. You get to your limit and stop because you think “oh I will never be as good as them”, so you switch off.

However, I’ve not seen any of my kids switch off in the OnBoard skateboarding lessons. If anything, I have seen them light up more. I want to re-create in my class during academic subjects what I have seen them doing in the skateboard sessions.


"I haven’t seen some of them like this ever, and I wasn’t aware that they could go to the levels they have gone to. So now that I know what they are capable of, there’s no turning back. I now have higher expectations of them in everything they do. I say to them now, “I’ve seen you do it in skateboarding, so I know you can do it your class work”.


"I am constantly bringing up the OnBoard skate lessons in other areas as a   way to give them something to compare with in those times when they are struggling and wanting to give up. I will often say to them “actually you’ve had success and it looked like this in the skateboarding lesson, how can you apply that to your academic work”. It’s all about the transference of skills.

The programme has greatly impacted our writing programme. We now use skateboarding as a prompt for recounting what they have done in the lessons. Next, we will be focussing on procedural writing by referring to skateboard lessons such as – dismantling and reconstructing the skateboard and putting on and taking off the safety equipment. Another thing I would like to do is have the children give me written instructions on how to fit the safety equipment".


"It’s just amazing how they want to keep talking about skateboarding and they want to keep writing about it".


"I am doing a presentation to our cluster of schools called Upper Hiko Cluster and I am going to do a presentation about our writing programme. One of the key focuses will be the provocation of skateboarding. it’s been such a huge motivator, so I am going to recommend On-Board Skate to the other schools, because it’s been huge for our students.

I think every kid should go through this programme. I remember sport when I was a kid and I hated it. Because of that I developed a negative attitude towards it. Anything physical now, I’m like no, I can’t do it. In contrast, I see the children participating in the skateboard sessions develop an open mind and demonstrate a real can-do attitude. I am now trying to harness that attitude in other areas of their lives".


"It’s been so great seeing my kids in this environment, because I would have never have thought of putting them on a skateboard. But it has unlocked the potential of so many of the children, and now that I’ve seen that there is no going back".


I N S T R U C T O R S   A S   R O L E  M O D E L S


"Aidan and Martin are such great tutors, they are amazing teachers.  Just their natural calm demeanor and the fact that they will play around on the boards to show the kids what they can achieve with effort and practice. The kids are just in awe of them".


"The kids love the sessions. They love it that they can do it. It’s safe. The sessions are set up in an environment that is challenging, but it’s one that they can control.  So, if they hit the wall of their capabilities or what they feel is the edge of their capabilities, Martin and Aidan are quick to sweep in and encourage them.  Or hold on to them and physically scaffold them, and then they unlock again.  It’s just like, it’s never ending, it’s like an onion with all these multiple layers".


"Martin and Aidan genuinely love skateboarding. They have seen the value of it in their lives and they want to pass it on to the next generation".



In compiling this case study we set out to demonstrate the positive benefits that our in-school skateboard programme could have on the personal, social, physical and educational outcomes of children participating.


The value themes identified in this interview highlight some of the positive benefits that can accrue from children's involvement in skateboarding.

Many of these benefits have been well established in skateboarding culture for decades. The opportunity now exists to continue to promote them through the ongoing support of OnBoard Skate's Skatesafe skateboard programme in schools and communities.


Not only can this improve children's personal and social development, but it can also embed a lifelong love of independent physical activity. This can be built from a strong foundation of school and community involvement that is clearly evident in skateboarding culture.