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Cards & Letters

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.

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