Kids deserve a place to grow: Tony Hawk answers the call to action.
Tony Hawk enjoying the transitions of the Del Mar Skate Ranch in 1983.
In his adolescent years, Tony Hawk considered the local skatepark his home away from home and skateboarding the sport that delivered him into a tight community, shaping his character and teaching him lessons in leadership, perseverance, and initiative.
Today, Tony’s two greatest passions are children and skateboarding. In recent years skateboarding has grown to include more than 7.3-million participants in the United States, yet only about 3,500 skateparks are available for them to ride. Most skaters ride wherever they can-in the streets, in parking lots, and just about anywhere they aren’t chased from. Community groups and civic leaders have identified skateparks as an answer to the lack of suitable places to ride. But most city officials have no idea how to properly develop a skatepark, or even where to start.
After receiving thousands of e-mails from parents and children across America who either did not have a safe, legal place to skate or were ostracized-and in some cases arrested-for skating on public property, Tony decided to establish a foundation whose mission would be to serve this population. He wanted to help them develop quality places to practice the sport that gives them much-needed exercise and a sense of self-esteem. So in 2002 he established the Tony Hawk Foundation, financed the organization with a personal gift, and assembled a board of directors that represents a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise.
“The whole skatepark experience has been a wonder to skaters and non-skaters alike. Senior citizens marvel at the athleticism and imaginations of the skaters, and skaters have a new respect for how a small-town village government can work if patience and fortitude are applied. We remain indebted to the Foundation not only for the cash and vouchers, but for also the insights into the sport and the little pep talks we received throughout the process. What you did for us here in Somerset was the catalyst that made it possible.”— David Snider, Councilman, Somerset, Ohio
Since its inception, the Tony Hawk Foundation has sought to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on serving underprivileged children. Through grants and other charitable donations, the foundation supports programs focused on the creation of public skateboard parks. The foundation favors projects that have strong community involvement, grassroots fundraising, and a base of support from the skaters, parents, law enforcement, and local leaders.
Fortunately, in recent years hundreds of municipalities have come to embrace the recreational-and societal-benefits of skateboard parks. With the popularity of skateboarding fueling the rush to build them, the need for help from the Tony Hawk Foundation has become more urgent and critical. Most cities in the process of building a public skatepark are working on their first, and no one in the bureaucracy has any experience in designing or constructing a skatepark. All the right questions must be addressed in advance: once the cement is poured and formed, there is no changing it. The Tony Hawk Foundation was established to help communities develop a pre- and post-construction checklist to ensure that the hard work of skaters, parents, and civic officials will result in a quality skatepark that will serve that community for years to come.
Backside smith grind over the doorway at Channel Street Skatepark in San Pedro, CA.
For all the petitioning, fundraising, planning, and designing that these individuals commit themselves to, they deserve a park that reflects their efforts-one that kids will actually use and enjoy. Far too many communities produce unskateable parks whose flaws contribute to collisions and injuries. If skaters can’t enjoy their skatepark, they simply won’t use it. The Tony Hawk Foundation offers information and guidance to avoid the most common design and construction mistakes-mistakes that cost communities thousands of dollars and countless hours of wasted effort. Through phone calls and e-mail, Tony Hawk Foundation staff answers questions, offers feedback, and provides information on useful resources to help individuals and community groups achieve the best skatepark possible.
Since 2002 the Tony Hawk Foundation has been fulfilling its mission to help young people by issuing grants to low-income communities building quality public skateparks, and providing guidance to city officials, parents, and children through the process. In the past decade the foundation has distributed more than $4-million to 505 public skatepark projects across the United States.
To-date, 417 Tony Hawk Foundation grant recipients have opened their skateparks and are currently serving an estimated 4.5-million children annually. With the remaining grant recipients scheduled to open their parks in the next 12 months, an estimated 5-million young people annually will use facilities that received financial aid and development guidance from the Tony Hawk Foundation.
The Tony Hawk Foundation supports disadvantaged communities and at-risk children. We are the only national grant-giving organization focused solely on the development and financing of free, quality public skateparks. We know that skateparks provide a safe and inspiring avenue for skaters to practice and excel at their sport, and that the process of developing a local skatepark encourages and teaches young people about how to make positive changes within their own communities.
For Tony Hawk, skateboarding was a healthy outlet and a recreational challenge, and it provided a social group of creative, like-minded individuals. It was also a sport that helped him build confidence, taught him to persevere, and through his mentoring of younger skaters helped him develop leadership skills. The Tony Hawk Foundation works every day to be able to bring these same lessons to children across the country.