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Dear Editor,

I want to thank you for a great series of articles over the past year. We have gained many insightful tips from reading your stories and have even been in contact with a few of the cities featured.

We are very close to building our skatepark and are very excited. It seems that one of the biggest struggles with skateboard parks is getting the users to wear helmets and pads, and we are anticipating that will be an issue for us as well.

Not long from being a kid myself, I understand the desire for freedom and minimal rules. Those of us working for cities that desperately want these great facilities for kids are "selling" the idea that helmets and pads will be worn to satisfy part of the insurance requirements, but we need help from magazines and supporters like yourself to make it more acceptable to wear helmets.

Most of the pictures I see show skateboard parks in city parks with very few users wearing helmets. This seems to say to the users that it is okay.

Do you have any suggestions on how we might make it the norm instead of the exception that kids wear helmets and that the photos in your articles include kids with helmets?

If we can all work together on this and somehow make it acceptable, it would be better for everyone. We hope to be more proactive and prevent the negative interface. Thanks for your time. I welcome any suggestions.

Kristen Thomsen

Director of Parks and Recreation

City of Solvang, Calif.

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Regan,

Really enjoy Parks & Rec Business magazine. It is very well done and professional with practical information we can use. However,

I have a suggestion concerning the photos of skateboarders, in-line skaters, and bikers shown in a number of issues and not wearing the proper protective gear.

We in the recreation and parks profession constantly encourage participants to wear the proper safety gear while participating in these sports. Help us by showing great photos of participants wearing the proper gear and still having fun.

Many thanks,

Phil Bryan

Superintendent of Recreation

City of Rockville, Md.

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Hi Kristen and Phil,

I sure appreciate your thoughtful letters. That's one of the great things I've noticed about parks and recreation... Everyone is extremely respectful and they always provide an insightful and usually thought-provoking perspective, as you have in your letters. Thanks.

But on to the primary subject of your letters -- helmets and pads (and us not being diligent about showing only kids with helmets and pads on). As we started the skatepark series I had this discussion with our art director, Al Holappa.

He said something like, "Ya know (he's from Minnesota), maybe we should only run photos when the kids are wearing helmets." He spoke from experience as we had a similar situation with another magazine we publish for children's camp directors, Camp Business.

Long story short (though probably too long at this point), we decided that camp directors take extra caution with the kids in their charge, so all skateboard-riding campers would be shown with helmets and pads as this represents the reality of camps that have skateparks.

In parks and recreation, the majority (as far as I can tell) of public skateparks are unsupervised (though I know Rockville and many other East Coast skateparks are supervised) and the photos we show reflect the reality that some kids wear pads and helmets, and others don't, while some skateparks are supervised, and others aren't.

You've certainly brought up a great point, and it's one that should be debated and is debated in skateboarding circles. There are some who believe that pads and helmets should not be required at public parks. Their reasoning is that skateboarding in a skatepark (and even street skating) has a much lower injury rate than basketball, for instance, but pads and helmets aren't required of other recreational sports participants. Also, most injuries are to the wrist as the skater breaks his or her fall, which pads or helmets can't prevent (statistics are based primarily on studies by the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- see Parks & Rec Business, October 2003, page 8).

Others argue that, whether or not a facility is supervised, pads and helmets should be required to mitigate any risk as much as possible. They argue that wearing a helmet and pads is really not too onerous, plus you're protecting them from collisions with other skaters and bikes.

Thanks to your letters, we plan to address both sides of this issue in 2004 as we continue The Skatepark Decision as a monthly column.

Thanks again for your help, and for reading. Please let us know how we're doing in other areas of interest to you, and if there are subjects you'd like to see covered.

Thanks,

Regan D. Dickinson, Editor

Parks & Rec Business magazine

News Briefs

DENVER -- KoalaPlay Group, the commercial play design and development division of Koala Corporation, has completed installations of custom wet and dry play attractions in England, Mexico and Russia. The installations include Splash Landings Hotel, Alton Towers, England; Carl's Jr., Tijuana, Mexico; and Gorky Park, Moscow. Pictured here is the Alton Tower's New Splash Landings Hotel and Cariba Creek Waterpark where Koala's theming department designed the "Wacky Waterworks Treehouse" and "Tipping Bucket" water-play attractions.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Surface Industries Inc., distributor of Ramp Armor, Sub-Str8 and other ramp surfacing and skatepark materials, will be managed by Site Action Sports LLC. New sales manager Mark DiOrio will manage sales and operations for Surface Industries.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Landscape Structures (LSI) has been awarded the Park and Playground Equipment contract with U.S. Communities, a national non-profit organization that helps local government agencies leverage their collective buying power to purchase a broad range of goods and services and streamline the purchasing process, says LSI.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- GreenPlay LLC celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, and has added two consultants as pricipals for the parks, recreation and open space consultant -- Pat O' Toole and John Overstreet. O'Toole has consulting, planning and agency directorial experience. Overstreet also has consulting experience, as well as government agency senior management and university teaching experience.

CHATANOOGA, Tenn. -- PlayCore Holdings Inc. announces the sale of its Heartland Industries Inc. subsidiary to a group led by Heartland management and Dubin Clark & Company. PlayCore says its sold Heartland in order focus on its commercial and residential playground products. Heartland, which produces backyard storage options for the residential market, joins a portfolio of Dubin Clark companies that includes Classic Party Rentals, Exciss Trailers, Haulmark Trailers and Southland Log Homes.

Calendar

2004

February

7-11

Ohio Parks & Recreation Association Conference, Columbus, Ohio

(614) 895-2222

www.opraonline.org

24-27

American Camping Association National Conference, San Francisco

(765) 342-8456

www.acacamps.org

2/26 - 3/2

NRPA Aquatics Conference, North Charleston, S.C.

(847) 843-7529

www.aquaticsnrpa.org

March

10-12

Texas Recreational & Park Society Conference, Wichita Falls, Texas

(512) 267-5550

www.traps.org

10-13

California Park & Recreation Society Conference, Anaheim, Calif.

(916) 665-2777

www.cprs.org

15-17

New Jersey Recreation & Park Association Conference & Exhibition, Atlantic City, N.J.

(732) 568-1270

http://community.nj.com/cc/parksandrecreation

April

25-28

New York State Recreation & Park Society Annual Conference, Tarrytown, N.Y.

(518) 584-0321

www.nysrps.org

September

17-19

National Alliance for Youth Sports International Youth Sports Congress, Indianapolis

(800) 688-KIDS

www.nays.org

24-27

Colorado Parks & Recreation Association Conference, Breckenridge, Colo.

(303) 231-0943

www.cpra-web.org

October

First week of October

World Water Park Association Annual Symposium & Trade Show, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

(913) 599-0300

www.waterparks.org

12-16

NRPA Congress, Reno, Nev./Tahoe, Calif.

(703) 858-0784

www.nrpa.org

10/29 - 11/2

2004 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meeting & Expo, Salt Lake City

(202) 898-2444

www.asla.org

November

3-4

Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association 2004 Trade Show, Green Bay

(414) 423-1210

wpraweb.org

December

1-3

Pool & Spa Expo, Las Vegas

(888) 869-8522

www.poolandspaexpo.com

8-11

Athletic Business Conference & Expo, Orlando

(800) 722-8764

www.athleticbusiness.com/conference/

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