THE last three years have seen an increase in proficient skaters in Ripon thanks to the skate park behind Ripon Leisure Centre.
The council funded amenity is especially well used at this time of year as it gives local children a place to 'hang out' during the school holidays and take part in something they enjoy.
And it's not just skating that the park has encouraged.
Jack Revera, 13, has been using the facility for the last 12 months and is currently making a video of his fellow skaters.
He has more than two hours of footage and aims to use his experience of filming his friends skating at the park to enable him to get into the film industry.
“I’m making a video of all my friends skating. My aim is to become a film editor because I really like making films," said Jack.
Jack, who lives in Ripon but is a pupil at Rossett School in Harrogate, says the skate park is a really good facility for him and his friends.
“Without this facility I would be so bored. During the holidays we spend all day here," he said. “But some people come down here just to try to ruin the place; they have put paint on the ramps and once they put grease on the ramps which took weeks to get off."
Since taking up the street sport, Jack has entered one competition, at York Arts Festival, but says Ripon Skate Park would benefit from holding its own events.
Jack’s step dad, David believes the skate park is a valuable tool in keeping young people off the street and doing something constructive.
“It really is well used by the youngsters and by using it so often they are getting really good too," he said. It seems really good for the kids because they get to do something constructive and they all look after each other – there’s never any bother between the skaters.”
Billy Nicholson, 12, and Theo Moore, 14, have each been using the skate park for two years.
Theo says the skate park keeps him out of the house and fit.
“If this was not here I wouldn’t be as fit as I am because I’d get less exercise – I’d be at home playing on computer games!" he said.
The three skaters were keen to distance themselves from other groups who used the skate park as a place to congregate and get drunk.
Also calling for more council involvement in organising events was Billy, who even suggested that they would raise money for charity through organised skating events.
“It would be great if the council organised some events here. It would be good publicity for the venue and for us – we could use it to raise money for charity,” said Billy.
But – and there’s always a but with teenagers – Jack and his friends say they have got too good for the Ripon Skate Park and are urging Harrogate Borough Council to extend it so they can continue to improve and possibly compete in more competitions.
The nearest big skate parks are in Leeds, Redcar and Stockport, which are expensive destinations for a young skater.
“It would be really good if they could put an extension on the park because it gets really busy and you have to queue to get on it and we need something more challenging,” said Jack.
He added: “If there were competitions held here it would encourage more people to get into it.”