Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Bull Bay skatepark awaits opening

Published:Monday | September 21, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Skaters enjoying the Freedom Skatepark and Youth Centre in Bull Bay.
Skaters enjoying the Freedom Skatepark and Youth Centre in Bull Bay.

The Freedom Skatepark and Youth Centre in Bull Bay has been completed, but the coronavirus pandemic is causing delay to its official launch.

The skatepark, which was completed in May, features a Californian bean bowl, manual pad, a mini ramp, rails, ledges and other components.

“The rules that the Government set are not encouraging groups of people to gather because of the risk, but we will try and do something in October,” main sponsor Flipping Youth’s founder, William Wilson, said.

Wilson says roughly US$200,000 (J$28 million) was spent to complete the project, but says it would have cost about US$500,000 (J$70 million) if not for sponsors and volunteers.

Wilson said he hopes the park will help to improve the popularity and competitiveness of skateboarding in Jamaica, but that this is not its main purpose.

“We want to work with a large amount of young people, rather than focusing too much on a few elite athletes that might take Jamaica to the Olympics,” he said. “We really want to work in communities that are suffering with high amounts of violence and to provide opportunities for them.”

Wilson said the project was inspired by the killing of Jamaican skateboarder Andre Thompson, who wanted to use skateboarding to help lower violence among Jamaica’s youth.

Bull Bay ‘Sk876’ skate crew co-founder Ivah Wilmot said the skaters and residents are grateful for this skatepark and youth centre because it has provided a space for them to improve their skills, while describing initiatives, such as its ‘eduskate’ programme, as a major step in community development.

“We have a community centre at the skatepark and Wi-Fi, and a little place to operate out of so that we can do homework programmes, so that we can help community development,” Wilmot said. “This skatepark will create opportunities for people to make money, and get jobs, and we can create an industry [for the community].”

He said that although the skatepark has not been officially opened, they have been having small skating sessions under the guidelines of the Government’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

Skateboarding Jamaica (SJ) President Ryan Foster said the park will be good for the development of skateboarding and the athletes in Jamaica, especially because it is now an Olympic sport.

Foster said that SJ, in partnership with the Ministry of Sport and the Jamaica Olympic Association, also have plans of building more skateparks in Jamaica.

“Our SJ VP (vice president) Steve Douglas as well, is working with investors and the Government to also construct a skatepark in Boys’ Town,” Foster said. “The sport is on the rise and we will continue to provide avenues for our athletes to self-actualise, while we encourage others to get involved in the sport.”

- Sharla Williams