A Chicks Only skate day might be just the start for a keen group of skateboarders in Palmerston North.
Skateboard school turns out more Manawatū women on wheels
Steve Hodges and Janet Sayers relocated from Auckland to Palmerston North after six years running a skateboarding programme in Auckland. Their OnBoard Skate company has already run open days and holiday programmes in Palmerston North, Whanganui, Levin and Tararua, and they have helped teach skateboarding to hundreds of children, young people and adults.
"In Auckland, we had over 35,000 kids go through our programmes, and we went to community programmes and to 130 schools," Hodges said.
They take the boards, safety gear, and moveable ramps with them, demonstrate the basics and how to be safe and watch 'em roll. Then, they keep up support for their new skaters by encouraging them to form clubs, Facebook pages and groups.
"Skating is an individual activity, but it's social too. There's a sense of freedom compared to organised sports," Hodges said.
"We have all ages and abilities. We can teach a 5-year-old and 12-year-old together with their mum. You can do it with friends, and it's good for families."
Most OnBoard programmes are designed for everyone, but there are also special "Chicks Only" days, to encourage women into the sport.
At Sunday morning's Chicks Only meet-up, about 20 women and girls from 10 years up skated along the Manawatū River trail, shared tips, tricks and encouragement, before laying into hot pizza together under the trees during a downpour.
Palmerston North OnBoard instructor Jasmin Tenheuvel,17, has been skating for two years and is happy there might be more women on wheels.
"I saw the guys doing it and I thought I could do that too. There were a couple of girls, but it was real male-dominated."
She does a few tricks and visits skate bowls and parks sometimes but is mostly interested in skating as a fun way to cruise about. She likes the river trail but especially likes skateboarding on beachside paths.
"I love that you can teach anyone to do it. We teach them how to get over small ramps in the early classes."
Eva Corkery, 10, was the smallest in Sunday's group, and said she skated with her dad and brothers, but was pretty excited to come along to a females event.
"Not many girls go skateboarding. I want to go in bowls and do lots of grinds – when you go on the rail and slide across the railing.
"I just started and it's quite fun."