There is an amazing opportunity in Castlegar for anyone who wants to either learn how to skateboard or build on the skills they already have. Kootenay Family Place is operating Summer at the Skatepark — a free skateboard coaching program for people of all ages at the Castlegar Rotary Skatepark located at the Castlegar Community Complex.
This is the sixth year the program has taken place. The drop-in program operates from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday until Sept. 2. You don’t even need to have your own equipment to participate — boards, helmets and pads are all provided, but you are welcome to use your own if you have it.
“When you come, we basically assess what level you are at,” said program coordinator Ty Smith. For those who haven’t skated at all, basic skills such as how to stand on the skateboard, the parts of the skateboard, how to stop, how to turn and how to get off safely are covered.
For repeat participants and more advanced riders, a skill building approach is taken. “Each time a participant comes back, we develop the skills a little more and reinforce what they are working on,” explained Smith.
The proper use of the skatepark and skatepark etiquette are also covered. Smith is happy with the way the program has helped to develop a positive atmosphere at the skatepark. “It has really brought a community spark to the skatepark area,” he said. Shade umbrellas and flags are some of the new additions to the park inspired by the program.
Over the years more than 1000 people have participated in the program. “A lot of the families come back year after year,” said Smith. He also says that tourists utilize the program, some year after year. “The first person that came this year was from Fredricton, NB,” he said.
One of those repeat families is the Mailey family, whose three children between the ages of four and nine are really enjoying their time at the park. “It is awesome, we spend pretty much the whole summer here,” said mom Helen Mailey.
Smith and fellow coaches Stephanie Scott and Spencer Legebokoff are all passionate about the program and two or three of them can always be found at the park during program hours.
“I think it was awesome, it was fun,” said Dawson Dowe as he was putting away his equipment after a session Monday. As to what he learned, “Stopping and going, I had never ridden a board before,” he said.
BC Gaming is the major funding sponsor, but additional sponsors include Skull Skateboards, S 1 Helmets, Castlegar and District Recreation Department, Spectrum Skateparks, Chances, Central City Shoes and Crumbs Bakery Cafe.