Construction To Start On New Skate Park

Jade Niccolls, Collette Neuhoff Trustee Maria Holder Memorial Trust, Donna Clarke Project Manager of Maria Holder Memorial Trust, Stephen Lashley Minster of Culture, Sports and Youth, Paul Wilson President of the Skateboarding Association of Barbados, Johnathan Austin and Luke Shepherd as they all break ground for the new skate park at Wildey.

AFTER crying out for a home to call their own for some years, the skate- boarding fraternity in Barbados have had their calls answered. The newly formed Skateboarding Association of Barbados will now have a place to roost at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex after ground was broken at Wildey yesterday.

The project, which is being financed to the tune of US $1.4 million by The Maria Holder Memorial Trust will see a world-class facility being built for the growing faction of skaters on the island.   During yesterday’s ceremony, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley explained that there were previously plans to build a skate park on the island but those fell through due to shortcomings on the part of the over- seas party earmarked to oversee design of the facility.  He however, went on to state that through a partnership with The Maria Holder Memorial Trust, the Ministry was able to see the project to this point. “Subsequently in October of that year – 2012 – the Ministry became aware of an initiative by The Maria Holder Memorial Trust to construct a skate park but there were some logistic challenges associated with the site that was identified at the time. But immediately upon learning of that situation, the Ministry offered to have the park sited here at the Garfield Sobers Complex.” he said.

With the architecture of the park falling to a designer who has created over 200 skate parks and BMX facilities across the USA, UK, Sweden, Cayman Islands and Philippines, Minister Lashley said that he was sure that not only skaters would find a use for the park. “This park will certainly be a fillip to the development of skating among our youth and those who are not so young.  Given the ambience and the centrality of this location, I believe it will afford an excellent option for persons wishing to relax in a sporting environment.”

Going to say that he was aware of the challenges faced by the fraternity in the past, Minister Lashley, who said he spent some of his youth on a board as well, said that the time for the woes was over. “I have opted this morning to provide this important background for this project to signal to the members of the skateboarding fraternity that your interest and that of the development of skateboarding in Barbados have been, for quite a while, a priority of the Ministry and by extension, a priority of the Government of Barbados.  I must add that we are acutely aware of the rapidly growing interest by our young people in the sport of skateboarding as well as the challenges you would have faced with respect to finding a home for your sport.  I’m also aware that in your efforts to advance skateboarding in Barbados, you had created a do-it-yourself facility at Graeme Hall that was demolished and, as I understand it, as a consequence of some legal challenges.”

President of the Skateboarding Association of Barbados Paul Wilson said that the park was a long time in coming and would do its part in changing the face of Barbados.  “This is going to change the dynamic of Barbados when it comes to the youth.  We have a serious problem when it comes to the youth right now in Barbados with crime and violence.  This is something that when you start to do it, your friend-base is very important.  If you don’t have friends that encourage you to do these things and stay away from the things that have no real value in life, you will be going down a very long, dark road.  I don’t like to say certain things to people because what you say to some one can be very influential or very destructive and I learned that from a very young age.” he said.  Coming from the Pine himself and calling it a long and amazing road to get to this point, Wilson said that it was time that skateboarding was able make its contribution to the wider community.  “I want to go back in these communities and give back some of what I learned from skate boarding and teaching these kids that you don’t have to be a footballer or anything like that.  You can have your own space for yourself and develop what you want,” he said. (MP)

Article taken from The Barbados Advocate – Thursday, 1 March 2018



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