“Skateboarding was recognized as an area of interest among youth in Pembroke,” says Jerry Novack, founder of The Grind Youth Centre and SK8 Park. “The skate park expands the services that we already offer and enables the centre to reach more youth in the area. Opening the skate park also fosters fitness among youth and gives them the opportunity to have fun in a safe and positive environment while meeting others with similar interests.”
With funds raised by the Salvation Army centre, a community charity run and a generous grant from The United Way, The Grind Youth Centre purchased ramps and equipment and hired two employees. Several expert skaters from within the community also joined the team as dedicated volunteers, often modelling their skills for the youth.
A kick-off party celebrating the grand opening of The Grind SK8 Park was held in July with over 50 youth and volunteers, a BBQ, concert and skateboarding demos. In the months since, the park has been open for three hours each weekday at its downtown Pembroke location, plus on weekends and evenings for special events. These hours will remain in effect until mid-fall, when it is hoped the skate park will secure an indoor winter location.
“The skate park has also been touring around Renfrew County to make it accessible to youth in more remote areas,” says Novack. “Some places visited during this past summer were Deep River, Griffith, the Pembroke Waterfront Festival, the Cobden Fair and Camp Mishewah. We welcome requests from other locations and organizations that would like the skate board park to come to their community or event.”
Although The Grind SK8 Park is primarily for youth aged 11 to 17, younger children, older youth and adults have participated.
“There has been an incredibly positive response in the number of youth that use the skate park on a regular basis,” says Novack. “The skill level of participants has improved and there's been a heightened awareness in the community not only of the skate park but also of The Grind Youth Centre.”
For more information on The Grind Youth Centre, visit: thegrindyouthcentre.ca