Filling the Afterschool Void: Urban Sports and High School

In Japan, most high school kids are required to engage in at least one afterschool activity (up to five occasions per week), whilst attending cram school an average of three nights per week. In the UK things are a little different. The afterschool void is often filled idly watching TV, messing about on the internet or loafing around the house with indeterminate intention. 
Organised afterschool events, for many students, still reek of academic expectation. Perhaps the drama club are putting on “Starlight Express” and need extras well-practised in roller skating? The average teenage kid – no matter how proficient on a pair of inline skates – is unlikely to start doing berani acid drops off the stage in jubilation!
Urban sports are accessible, generally unsupervised, antonymous and social at the same time. Encouraging afterschool sporting activity is essentially a move towards expanding stimulating learning time for students, seeking opportunities for them to socialise and interact with a wider social group, and effectively fill their post-school hours more beneficially. The reduction of anti-social behaviour is an aim of every afterschool event or parent-sanctioned hobby.
The provision of roller skating tracks, BMX racing tracks and skateparks across the UK has helped reduce the levels of youth crime, anti social behaviour and vandalism by up 60% in some areas. Often the greatest reductions occurred within poorer urban neighbourhoods.
Behavioural experts profess the usefulness of urban sports in bridging the social gap between poor and middle class students. The self discipline, skills, commitment and basic manners involved in the youth urban sports community exist regardless of social or economic group, and can help to promote tolerance and understanding between youth social groups.
Inline skates, BMX’s – the raw equipment for urban sports can be bought fairly cheaply. One thing is surely true – Encouraging kids to strap on their skates or hop onto their BMX for a little afterschool practice could do more for their social and academic development than an evening in front of the TV!

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