Onboard Sheffield: Skatepark supporting city's 'forgotten' young people poised for huge expansion

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The expansion will allow the Onboard team to support five times more children than ever before - many cope with conditions like ADHD, ADD and autism.

A skatepark group offering educational support to more than 80 school-age pupils in Sheffield is poised for a huge expansion.

Onboard Skatepark on Little London Road has been offering successful education and support services to children and families across Sheffield for the past 10 years. The students are those who have been "forgotten" by the education system, having been suspended or excluded from schools, or struggle in the mass classroom-based system.

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Amy Cooper, Onboard Skatepark's Chief Executive, said: "At Onboard the staff are able to put the young people at the centre of everything.  It is very different to a school environment, we can provide a nurturing environment one that the students feel they are listened to.

Onboard Chief Executive, Amy Cooper (left) has said the group have been on an "amazing journey". (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper)Onboard Chief Executive, Amy Cooper (left) has said the group have been on an "amazing journey". (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper)
Onboard Chief Executive, Amy Cooper (left) has said the group have been on an "amazing journey". (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper) | Kieran Cooper

"They are involved in deciding what activities and qualifications they do.  They are involved in their own assessments every week and term.  They have access to all their records and files.  When asked what they need most in terms of support, nearly all the students mention they want a trusted adult they can talk to, and somewhere safe where they can go and feel welcome.  That’s it.  It’s not rocket science.  But, of course, it takes time and resource, and it takes people who care."

Over the past decade of Onboard's work, they have supported around 80 students a term - many of which cope with conditions like ADHD, ADD and autism - and over 350 families in the holidays through activities, food sessions and youth clubs.

Now, the site is poised for a huge expansion, as they work with Sheffield City Council and local business leaders to find a new, larger site with built-in classrooms.

Onboard Skatepark is poised for a massive expansion which will quintuple the number of children they support. (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper)Onboard Skatepark is poised for a massive expansion which will quintuple the number of children they support. (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper)
Onboard Skatepark is poised for a massive expansion which will quintuple the number of children they support. (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper) | Kieran Cooper

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Amy and Olympic gold medalist, Ed Clancy, watch on during the launch event this month. (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper)Amy and Olympic gold medalist, Ed Clancy, watch on during the launch event this month. (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper)
Amy and Olympic gold medalist, Ed Clancy, watch on during the launch event this month. (Photo courtesy of Kieran Cooper) | Kieran Cooper

The move will allow Onboard to extend their alternative education provision to 400 children in term times and over 500 families during the holidays.

Ms Cooper said: "We have been on an amazing journey over the past 10 years and we couldn’t have done it without lots of brilliant friends and supporters – people such as Yorkshire Sports, Streetgames, Move More, Sheffield City Council, South Yorkshire’s Mayor and the Police and Crime Commissioner.  We are very excited about the potential for expansion – we know there is some much more we can do for this city."

During a special event at the start of October, British Cycling announced Onboard as an official BMX Training Club. The event was attended by three-time Olympic gold medalist, Ed Clancy - who is also South Yorkshire's Active Travel Commissioner.

Mr Clancy launched a new book at the event, called 180º, which tells the story of Onboard Skatepark through poems written by its students.

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