Chad Samuel

Wheels rolling for Alberni skate park growth

A group of Port Alberni skateboarders are hoping to raise money to improve the city's current skatepark that was built 20 years ago.

A group of skateboard enthusiasts are hoping to spread the word about the local skate park and garner support for modernization.

The park, located next to ADSS and Wood Elementary School is twenty years old and in need of expansion to include a variety of wheels, like BMX bikes and scooters.

To get the ball rolling, local skater Zack Tatoosh is meeting with stakeholders and is involved in fundraisers. The first step, he said, is to get money and community support.

“For the most part, we need the support from the community, the kids and parents,” Tatoosh said. “This park was formed by the kids and parents twenty years ago and is outdated. We could excel more if we had something to work on.”

Tatoosh said he has gained more than just skateboarding skills since he started the sport six years ago.

“I have met new people, discovered new things and use skating as an outlet to express myself,” he said. “The kids here need to have something to express themselves with and gain self-esteem. Some kids can’t afford team sports so maybe they just get a skateboard for Christmas and pick it up.”

Tatoosh also sees potential to bring more people to Port Alberni. He knows of many local teens and kids who travel to other skate parks on the Island and feels a new, modern park can do the same for Port Alberni.

“I want to build something more than just an appreciation for a new skate park, but an icon for Port Alberni,” he said. “Right now we only have one hundred to two hundred people using it, which isn’t very much. People go out of their way to use the one in Cedar so if we have something similar here we can bring more people in.”

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Tatoosh plans on meeting with Mayor Mike Ruttan, the First Nations communities and local artists to see how everyone can collaborate. He plans to discuss land, money and whether to build a new park altogether or expand the existing one.

He will also be talking to leading park builder, Jim Barnum of Spectrum Skateparks in Vancouver. Tatoosh’s passion is something he wants other youth to experience.

“I have learned more than just how to skateboard,” he said. “I learned how to take risks and do it safely, make friendships and how to take things day to day. This will teach kids life skills. It has shaped who I am.”

The same can be said for Chad Samuel. He has been skateboarding for about five years and goes to the skate park at least once a day.

“Skateboarding is everything to me,” he said. “I want to see more kids come out and enjoy it as much as us older ones. It’s all about good times, friends and bringing out love to the park.”

Julia Reyes also sees potential to open the sport to more female boarders. She just started last summer, but aspires to be as good as her brother, who contributed to building the successful Bonsor skate park in Vancouver.

“I feel awesome being here,” Reyes said. “It is something fun to do on my own. I tell other girls not to be afraid to break a nail!”

The fall and winter Wham Bam socials at Glenwood Centre are one way the group’s fundraising efforts will help achieve their goals, but Tatoosh also set up a gofundme page to make it easier for the larger community to contribute.

For more information on making a donation, go to https://www.gofundme.com/skateparkfordakids.

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