THF Skatepark Manager Trevor Staples has been heavily invested in these efforts, both in his professional role and as a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He knows the impact these parks can have on communities and children, and he’s committed to advancing Built to Play opportunities to all interested groups and neighborhoods.

Here are some answers from Trevor about the impact Built to Play is already having, as well as some tips for those planning on applying for the next round of BTP skatepark funding.

Question: What can a skatepark add to a community and its overall dynamic?

Trevor Staples: Of the many ways a permanent skatepark can benefit a community, creating and strengthening positive social bonds would be first on my list. When a permanent, public skatepark is being developed, community members from all walks of life socialize, strategize, and work together toward a common goal. Once a skatepark is designed and built, those same community members continue their positive relationships through programming at the skatepark, as well as just regular old hanging out and enjoying the park together.

There are the social benefits of providing a facility for young people—particularly at-risk youth—to pursue an athletic activity that they love. There are public health benefits to having a safe place for young people to develop active lifestyles away from the risks found in the streets.

The new skatepark becomes a gathering place for the local skaters to challenge themselves safely. At the skatepark, young people meet others with similar interests and, in many cases, lifelong friendships are formed.

Q: Has there been one standout moment since the start of working on BTP?

TS: My favorite part of the Built to Play effort so far has been young skatepark advocates’ reaction to finding out that there are big organizations that care about what they do and who they are.

With support from Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and Tony Hawk Foundation, young people not only have an avenue for getting a public skatepark built, but they are introduced to civic involvement. They find out firsthand that all it takes to make positive change is getting involved, listening to others, and putting in some elbow grease. Young people are able to be a part of governmental processes that are usually only reserved for adults.

This is important not only for developing more public skateparks, but also for increasing civic involvement overall.

Q: As you sift through the current round of Built to Play applications, what are you looking for in a successful submission?

TS: The most important thing is seeing that there is support and involvement from across the community, from the youngest skateboarder to the oldest city council member.

Applicants have a better chance of being awarded a BTP grant if they demonstrate the need for a public skatepark from all parts of the community. When we see that young people, businesses, governmental agencies, elected officials, and citizens from across the community are involved, we get fired up!

We’re looking for skatepark projects that are designed to provide sustained service to their communities. This means that these facilities are concrete, designed by experienced professionals with local skateboarders’ input, and practice policies that work for everyone.

Q: If you could offer three tips to those planning to submit applications this summer, what would they be?

TS: Here you go:

  1. Read and fill out the application worksheet (found here) as soon as you can. The worksheet contains the same questions as the application. Most applicants will find that they’re missing one or more pieces to the application puzzle, and may need a few days to track down specific information.
  2. Call me, email me, text me, or stop by and say hi. For real, though, I—and other staff at THF—are here to help you succeed in getting your public skatepark built. Our main goal is to help get more skateparks built for kids. The more we talk, the more you’ll know, and the more likely it is that your application will be successful.
  3. Be inclusive. Whether you’re the gnarliest shredder, or the classiest city administrator, we’re all in this together. The more positive relationships built between different community members, the stronger the application will be. The positive relationships built during the development process will carry on after the skatepark is built, and the whole community will benefit!