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Freedom Skate Park to add spark to Bull Bay

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2020 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Harry Gerrard, co-founder of the Concrete Jungle Foundation, an organisation whose mission it is to provide skate parks for youth living in impoverished communities around the world.
Clemment Taquet, director of Concrete Jungle Foundation, hard at work.
The Freedom Skate Park team at work.
Freedom Skate Park slopes and ramps.
Freedom skater practising his moves.
Freedom Skate Park team laying concrete.

At the end of the Bull Bay quarantine comes some more good news for residents, especially the young and spritely. Freedom Skate Park, a massive undertaking that has been years in the making, is finally now very near its own end. Kevin Bourke, one among the primary conceptualisers, projects that construction of all the ramps, slopes, rails and the like will be complete by this Saturday.

“A lot of energies came together to get this done, countless hours of planning, and hiccups, for a good, long while now. And it’s coming to fruition. It shows that a project that was rooted in love couldn’t be stopped,” Bourke told The Gleaner.

Freedom Skate Park was a collaborative effort among multiple entities, including Seprod Foundation, Sandals Foundation, Flippin Youths Foundation, Tmrw.Tday Culture Fest, Jamnesia Foundation, The Skate Room and the Concrete Jungle Foundation, who sent the team of builders.

“I can’t stress how much gratitude we have for these volunteers who were here before the pandemic hit. These guys are a team with integrity, strength, valour, honour and all of those words you use for superhero characters,” Bourke said. Expectedly, the team thinned a bit when the COVID-19 pandemic spread into the region. But Bourke reports that a good number stayed behind, to push through to the end.

Freedom Skate Park was built in response to Jamaica’s developing skate culture, primarily localised in Bull Bay, where it exists in tandem with surf culture. Before the foundations linked their energies to building Jamaica’s first real skate park, young local artists and athletes combined their efforts to refurbish a gully with murals, graffiti.

As Bourke asserts that the builders ensured all proper precautions were taken during construction, he knows that the buck doesn’t stop there. “All the right safety precautions were taken, we worked with all the rules that we were given. We were very much in communication with community leaders and members of parliament. It was us all holding hands, keeping everybody’s safety at the forefront of our minds, along with the unending mission to support youth development,” he said.

And so, with the hope to get more boards rolling as soon as possible, Bourke shared that the park development team is currently in the process of getting the skate park’s rules together. Because even though the park hasn’t officially opened, local skaters have already begun to bless the bowl to practise their spins, kicks and flips.