Perspective is everything: making space for sk8board culture

When a group of youth in Alexandria—a rural community in the Township of North Glengarry—were getting into trouble for skateboarding, they pointed out to staff at the North Glengarry Youth Centre Maison des Jeunes that they would not be skateboarding in areas they weren’t supposed to if there was a designated skatepark. This started a long journey to improve youth infrastructure in Alexandria.

The Community Development Worker at the local community health centre—Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie—acted as the convener, bringing together local youth with community organizations and parents to discuss how to get a skatepark built in the community. The youth provided insight and guidance on how to design a great skatepark, even researching examples of existing skateparks to help the adults understand their vision.

It took this intergenerational team close to six years and uncountable hours to make this vision a reality. The members of the team changed during this time, but their dedication to making the town more youth-friendly did not. The team had to first convince municipal leaders and councillors of the value of the skatepark. Once this hurdle was achieved, they turned their efforts to raising the needed funds through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, donations, fundraisers, and in-kind contributions.

The Sk8park is now proudly featured as one of the things that make Alexandria great! This state-of-the-art facility is a welcoming space for youth to hang out and be active. It is also home to an annual concert and celebration of skateboard culture with bands from Montreal and Ottawa, known as the Sk8fest Pilgrimage.

The successes in Alexandria show just how much can be accomplished when youth have a platform to contribute to decisions about their communities, and adults and youth work together toward a common goal.