As ground breaks this week on the long awaited outdoor skatepark at Art Gibbon Park in Rosemont, students at the neighbouring school are preparing to be skateboard ambassadors.
The Nelson and District Youth Centre combined efforts with Rosemont Elementary School and using funds of $2,000, purchased skateboards and helmets for a five-week after school camp exposing children to the skill and culture of skateboarding.
“With the development of the outdoor skatepark, we talked about how to introduce and encourage the sport,” said Christine Schmidt.
The youth centre manager approached Rosemont school principal Kathy Speirs who was more than happy to provide gym space after school hours. Speirs sees her students learning how to skateboard respectfully and safely so they will be able to show others coming to use the Rosemont park how it’s done.
“These kids are going to be able to be mini-ambassadors,” she said.
Schmidt wholeheartedly agrees.
“It’s going to build their skills so when it comes time to use the park, they will feel comfortable and can be leaders there,” she said.
The earthworks portion of construction on the skatepark began Tuesday with storm sewer work underway. Next, dump trucks will start to roll in and out of Art Gibbon Park near the end of the month.
The all-wheel park being developed will give kids in the Rosemont community something constructive to do after school in the neighbourhood. This boarding workshop is just the beginning of keeping kids close to home.
“It’s fantastic to see these kids with something to do after school,” said Speirs. “It’s active. It’s fun and the mentorship is fantastic. It’s just part of building the overall person.”
Retired professional snowboarder Dave Cashen has been instrumental in the success of the initiative. Speirs sees him as an incredible role model and “a hit with the kids.”
“To see him where he is now being followed by 10 rug rats, he’s just enjoying himself,” she said. “I am just so glad he’s here.”
New to Nelson last fall, Cashen brings a depth of experience and is used to having kids look up to him. He takes this role seriously.
“It’s important growing up to have positive influences in your life,” he said. “If there is something I can offer to children, especially if it’s something I have a passion for, it’s awesome.”
Cashen enjoyed watching the boys and girls of varying ages learn the sport. Many of them had never stepped on a board before.
“I helped them learn the basics from balancing to pushing to turning,” he said. “From the first day to the last day was phenomenal, just to see them progress and have fun. They all seemed to laugh and have a good time.”
Learning proper technique on the board will keep kids safe as they continue in the sport, Cashen said.
There were enough funds to purchase boards and helmets so 10 kids could try their hand at the sport. Teaching that boards and helmets go together was also important.
“There’s nothing uncool about it. Everyone’s got one on,” said Schmidt.
The Rosemont students started rolling around the gym in May and everyone hopes to get the after school group going again in September, possibly with more gear allowing for more participation.
Money to purchase skateboards and helmets came from the Local Sport Program Development Fund grant provided by the Province of BC and viaSport.