Researchers have found multiple benefits in skateboarding, ranging from mental health to education and careers, UCLA said Wednesday.

A first-of-its-kind study of skateboarding culture reveals that skateboarding improves mental health, fosters community and encourages diversity and resilience, USC said in a statement. The study, conducted by the Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC’s Rossier School of Education and USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, also showed that gender and race do matter within the skateboarding community.

“Skateboarding is embedded in youth culture today,” said skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, whose Tony Hawk Foundation funded the study. “Until now, little attention has been directed toward truly understanding who skateboarders are, what they think or why skateboarding becomes such an integral part of their identity. We at the Tony Hawk Foundation are proud to have sponsored this work in order to highlight these young people.”

The study included a survey that targeted 13-to-25 year olds and received over 5,000 responses, including a significant number from skaters who identified as female and/or as a skater of color. Interviews were also conducted with 120 skaters and skate community stakeholders in seven cities across the U.S.

The findings fly in the face of commonly held misperceptions around skateboarding culture, according to the statement

“Skateboarders are prone to being labeled by society as rebels, social deviants or rule-breakers,” noted the Pullias Center’s Zoe Corwin, the study’s principal investigator. “Stereotyping masks an array of valuable skills obtained through skateboarding. The study aims to redefine what it means to be a skateboarder and highlight connections among skateboarding, education and career.”

Added Neftalie Williams, a scholar in race and skateboarding culture who served as a researcher and co-author on this project: “Our research shows that through skateboarding, skaters develop the ability to communicate and build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. Skaters are excellent critical thinkers and problem-solvers who view success from a more communal perspective. They bring that insight into other areas of their lives, which is valuable to any university or organization.”

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