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Switch & Signal Skatepark opens Pittsburgh’s first indoor venue

Switch & Signal
Maya Henry
June11/ 2018

Photo above: Some of the regular crew at Switch and Signal’s 12 & Under Saturday Skate Session. Image courtesy of Michelle Newton.

When Kerry Weber moved back to Pittsburgh from San Francisco, he saw a real need for an indoor skateboard park in our four-season city.

On fair days, kids can enjoy the challenges of spots like Pittsburgh’s McKinley Skate Park, Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark in Carnegie, Bellevue Skate Plaza and South Park Action Park. But when rain and snow buffet the region, it’s no go.

Happily, Weber’s dream became a reality with Switch & Signal Skatepark in Swissvale, the region’s only indoor facility for skateboarding.

Since the 12,000-square foot facility opened in February, more than 1,500 visitors have been through the thoughtfully designed park to skate the bowls, ramps, and ledges. Some of those features are replicas of popular Pittsburgh and San Francisco Bay Area skate spots.

In addition to the undeniable athleticism of skating, Weber says skating builds kids’ confidence and self-worth.

“It gives them pride and the skills to overcome challenges,” says Weber, noting that layering on tricks and exploring different environments gives kids new problems to tackle as their skills develop.

Parents agree. Michelle Newton of Wilkins Township, whose 7-year-old son has only been skating a few months, has noticed how skating has helped her son.

“Nico has the athleticism, but this has added focus to that,” says Newton, who loves the community at Switch and Signal, too.

“It is cool to see the perseverance of all the kids on their boards and how they encourage each other,” she says.  Check out 7-year-old Nico skating on mom’s Instagram account.

Switch & Signal Skatepark
Learning to skate at one of Switch and Signal’s events. Image courtesy of Switch and Signal Skatepark.

Switch & Signal’s busy 12 & Under Session demonstrates the local demand for this type of facility.

Skateboarding is an ideal sport for all kids because of the low cost to participate, says Weber, who aims to create an inclusive space for kids of all genders and income levels.

Boards are available as part of the $12 session price, and helmet and pad rental is $3. The annual membership is a money saver for frequent skaters, giving kids a free monthly session and a $2 discount on the single session price, making it  $10 per session.

Switch & Signal’s summer camp for kids ages 5-12 will run with weekly sessions through Aug. 17. Beginners and those with wicked cool skills are equally welcome.

Over the course of the week, campers will explore their creativity by designing their own skateboard decks, assembling skateboards, and learning basic filmmaking techniques through shooting and editing their skateboard videos.

Weber has clearly put a lot of thought into the curriculum, drawing inspiration from initiatives as far away as Skateistan in Afghanistan, as well a nonprofit initiative called Skate Like a Girl.

Be forewarned: Weber says when kids get into skateboarding, it sticks with them and becomes a touchstone. Why not make it a family affair with a beginner’s session for everyone?

The facility is located next to the Swissvale busway. Later this month, Lawrenceville’s Constellation Coffee will open a second location inside the skatepark, aptly named Satellite. A perfect spot for moms and dads to watch their skater girls and boys.

Maya Henry

Maya's son calls her a chef-writer. When she's not writing about architecture or editing the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects' online magazine Maya can be found giving healthy cooking demos and working one-on-one with busy moms to help them prioritize their own health and the health of their families.

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