Skateboarding teaches children the benefits of practice and perseverance. It has gained prominence amongst younger participants in recent years due in part to the popularity of icons like professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and also the sport’s inclusion in the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
When my 9-year-old son wanted to try skateboarding, I was quite particular about finding the right teacher. Through recommendations, we were grateful to find coach Joseph Romey Dures, a Bidayuh boy born and raised in Kuching who moved to Kuala Lumpur to pursue creative studies in product design. Joseph eventually ended up working in the banking industry, but was forced in October 2020 by the pandemic to pivot and become a full-time skateboarding coach.
Together with his wife SuYin, a designer and design thinking coach, Joseph set up an inclusive skateboarding school in KL to provide a safe space for kids to learn about themselves through the sport. Students at their JR Skates school of skateboarding range from 5 to 65 years of age!
The benefits of skateboarding
Skateboarding is a full-body workout. It helps kids to burn calories, improve their reflexes, develop better body awareness and balance. It makes them stronger and healthier. The sport also teaches fall prevention and how to fall safely.
Skateboarding is also a cool creative art form and avenue for self-expression. Children can express their individuality through their movements as well as through the sport’s art and design elements like the art on the skatepark walls, skateboards and fashion items like t-shirts and shoes.
Learning to be brave and how to fail is another important lesson in skateboarding. Skate culture is super positive and focused on the process of learning. Landing tricks gains praise from skating peers, but so does coming back after a crash.
I have seen how skateboarding has helped my son take healthy risks, build self-esteem and confidence, and learn resilience. After his first few one-on-one lessons that resulted in a few tears, he confessed to me: “When I moved down the slope for the first time, I felt a little scared. But because I didn’t give up, I can now do it. I feel proud of myself. Now, when I try something for the first time and feel scared, I know I can overcome my fears just like I did in skateboarding.”
The sport transcends barriers, bringing together diverse people. JR Skates students are encouraged to be supportive of each other, and to have empathy for classmates who may be having a harder time.
The school also tries to instil a spirit of community in its students. I was particularly impressed one morning when I arrived with my son for an early class, to find coach Joseph showing a good example by cleaning up cans and rubbish that had been left by errant skateboarders at the skatepark the day before.
JR Skates’ classes
JR Skates’ classes are held at the Mont Kiara Skatepark on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings from 3 – 6pm, and on weekends from 9am to 12pm and 3 – 6pm. Their one-on-one class slots are limited and only available on weekdays, whilst the group classes are available throughout the week. You can contact them on his FB page here to find out more. If you’re looking for skateboard parks in KL, have a look here at our article.
JR Skates also coordinates and participates in community projects and charity events, to share their skills and love of skateboarding with the underprivileged. Learn how to get involved through their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
- There is a lot of falling involved in skateboarding, so do get a good skateboarding helmet and a set of protective elbow and knee pads for your child. You can also consider wrist guards. We got ours and our skateboard from Wheel Love in Bangsar.
- Your child will fall and get hurt. So, remind yourself to stay calm and positive. If you become nervous and panic, so will they.
- Do check if your coach has proper qualifications. In Malaysia, qualified coaches are certified by the National Skate Accreditation. Coaches who have completed this comprehensive accreditation programme are supported by the national governing body for Skateboarding, Malaysia Skate Federation (MYSKATE).
Some handy links
Finally, here are a few links shared by Joseph and SuYin to find out more about the common terms, lingo and skills learned in skateboarding:
How to become a skateboarding mum