Fri | Oct 19, 2018

From Tmrw.Tday to Freedom Park - Youth focus connects projects in Negril, Harbour View

Published:Monday | July 16, 2018 | 12:09 AMKimberley Small/ Gleaner Writer
Art and action meet as a mural is being painted while a skateboarder keeps his eyes on where he is going in the gully at Bull Bay, St. Andrew, where skating thrives.
Beenie Man engages the audience during his performance at the 2019 Tmrw.Tday Festival in Negril.
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As the Tmrw.Tday Culture Festival settles in as an annual event on the Jamaican entertainment and lifestyle calendars, the event's conceptualiser Kevin Bourke has developed more confidence in making his dreams reality. The Negril-based EDM, reggae music and yoga celebration arrived on the scene as a representation of Bourke's interests.

A positive international response and participation have encouraged the entrepreneur to lay the groundwork for the follow-up project, a local skate-park.

"When we started Tmrw.Tday Festival, it was about charity, philanthropy and environmental awareness and getting connected with island roots," Bourke told The Gleaner.

After the festival's first staging in 2017, the team donated sporting equipment to Revival Basic School in Hanover, a gesture Bourke reports was well received.

"On the heels of that, we continued into year two by setting up environmental and nutrition talks for the kids, teaching them the importance of respecting the environment and the sea. We want another sporting initiative, because sports and recreation are a huge part of youth development," he said. That's where the Freedom Park comes in.

"There's not a lot of spaces conducive to skating and there's a vibrant skate culture here. You can see it happening in Jamaica, mostly in the Bull Bay area," Bourke told The Gleaner. Bourke has entered discussions with potential investors to develop a skate-park in Harbour View, St. Andrew, and has already secured the endorsement of Seprod Foundation for the development.

Geographically the choice is sound, as a group of local youth has recently taken up the task of painting murals on the inside walls of a gully in Bull Bay, a place they use for it's smooth surface, proximity and availability. Skateboarding and surfing are similar practises of balance. In one sport, the athlete is walloped by waves and the ion the other stand the possibility of colliding with concrete, asphalt and steel. Still, they remain pastimes and hobbies which can become careers.

Neighbourhood friends from the area, Ivah Wilmot and Elishama Beckford (better known as 'Shama'), are professional surfers and skateboarders. They became active members of the international skateboarding community after improvising skate ramps in an abandoned gully. Wilmot and Beckford are now roots of a potentially blossoming sub-culture, and are helping Bourke make his dream a reality.

"This is where we've come in the journey and it's looking good. The Wilmot family and the Beckfords have been leading the skateboarding and surfing movements. With this core of skaters - with Ivah and Shama to help and be the heart and soul of Freedom Park - it seems right," Bourke said.