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MN 2020 Candidate Questionnaire
Steve Cwodzinski District 48
Describe your personal experience with skateboarding. Are you a skateboarder? Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?
I have not skateboarded, but I know it is a popular activity among youth in my community. Many of the students I taught were avid skaters and interested in skateboard culture.
Skateboarding has always had an appeal to youth and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity (ages 3-60+ years). Minnesota needs more opportunities for our citizens to be outside, active and creative in community social spaces. Do the communities you would represent have quality, accessible and visible skateboard spaces?
We have several quality skate parks including a newly remodeled one at one of our parks. We could stand to increase the number of options especially to bring easy access to more communities.
Minnesota hosted the world’s largest skateboard competition, X Games in 2017, 2018 and 2019. During the three X Games Minneapolis events, women and men competed in skateboarding contests that will also be added to the Olympics for Tokyo 2021. Skateboarding has become a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation other than safe places to roll. Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.
I believe skateboarding has important history with its values as an “independent, non-commercial” activity. I think it promotes key attributes like risk taking and independence that can be very helpful for youth and encourage an entrepreneurial mindset. We should also take strides to improve racial and gender gaps in skateboarding so they can benefit from it as well.
Quality concrete skateparks are an efficient use and value of tax payer resources due to their constant use and minimal maintenance. Other community amenities like ballfields, pools, ice rinks, trails and courts need large dedicated spaces, costly programming, and are often expensive to maintain financially and environmentally. Beyond team sports, our community members need activities that challenge them mentally and physically. How will you support youth and community health with new ideas and infrastructure?
During my over 30 years as a teacher, my top priority was always supporting the health and well-being of my students. I am a huge proponent of getting people outside and being active. We need to support efforts to create key infrastructure to make this possible including skateparks and other outlets like trails and courts.
Skateboarding is an individual challenging activity that can be done alone, but flourishes at community public skateparks that also can work within our COVID-19 era of social distancing. The University of Southern California just completed a study of skateboarding with these findings, “What we learned from skateboarding youth was profound. Study data illustrate how skateboarding bolsters mental health and facilitates community. Skaters of color explained feeling safer and more supported in the skate community. Skaters clearly articulated skills they learned through skating, such as persistence (skaters will practice a trick hundreds of times until they land it), problem solving, intergenerational and cross-cultural communication.” Our Minnesota communities need new ideas and resources to help serve our youth. Will you support the MN State Skate Park Matching Grant Program HF2490/SF1490?
I believe in the idea and mission behind that bill, but with the upcoming budget deficit, I cannot currently commit to supporting it in the next legislative session. However, I want to find ways to invest in our youth and skateparks are a cost-efficient strong option.
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