Several local organizations host community event for local skatepark

·3 min read

The Wheatland Youth Network, Canadian Mental Health Association and Skatemore Girls partnered to host an event on June 17 for Strathmore youth to have their voices heard regarding their local skatepark.

Project and Network Coordinator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Victoria Odell, said the idea behind the event was for local youth to influence positive change for their skatepark.

“There are a lot of youth in the area who are using the skatepark, it is recognized as a place of gathering for kids from the ages of seven to 18, but it is also recognized as an area that needs a bit of work — needs to have a better reputation in the community,” said Odell. “It’s a little bit of an eyesore, so what we’re doing today is bringing youth together, trying to build relationships amongst youth, as well as get the opportunity to have the youth tell us what they want to see.”

Odell explained that based on community response, many local youths enjoy coming to the skatepark as a place to hangout, practice their skills and be a part of a community, but they want to see more from the space.

Currently, the concrete pad is marred by graffiti, including several obscenities. Odell said many youths who use the space would like to establish street art on it instead of the graffiti and turn the park into a better reflection of their community.

“(They have suggested) having more areas that they can ride on; somebody mentioned a pump track so they can strengthen their skills. A lot of youth are recognizing that the concrete is not visually appealing so they would love an opportunity to paint it,” said Odell. “Once you bring the youth in and get the youth to direct the change themselves, they’re invested in it themselves, it becomes their space, they have more ownership of it and we’re hoping that also means it will make sure things are taken care of better.”

Becca McDonald, who started Skatemore Girls last year, added that many of the ideas put forward by those using the park are effectively simple, but would go a long way towards improving the space.

“We also talked about how this space is … good the way it is, so we don’t want to change it too much, we just want it to feel safer for everybody to come spend time here,” said McDonald. “We just thought maybe if we can put some love into this space then the community will see that and we’ll all be able to take care of each other better here, knowing this space is well taken care of.”

The Town of Strathmore was successful in acquiring a grant from the Rural Mental Health Project through the Canadian Mental Health Association, of which a portion went into Friday’s event.

The main goal of the Rural Mental Health Project is recognizing that each rural community is unique and that methods used to bring people together in larger urban centres don’t work the same for smaller demographics.

According to Odell, the idea is to essentially give local communities say and influence over local facilities and programs that they would like to see, and how they can continue to grow.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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