Skateboarding is not just a sport; it’s a culture, a way of life, and a form of self-expression.
Over the years, skateboarding has gained immense popularity and has evolved into a global phenomenon. It’s a sport that bridges age, gender, and cultural gaps, providing a sense of community and belonging for millions around the world.
Wikipedia describes skateboarding as “an action sport that involves riding and performing tricks using a skateboard, as well as a recreational activity, an art form, an entertainment industry job, and a method of transportation.” If you speak to the team behind Skate Space here in Jersey they’ll tell you that skateboarding, as well as being a fun thing to do, can also be a vehicle for learning life skills, and enhancing physical and mental health.
The much publicised development of the Les Quennevais skatepark has finally seen the opening of of a world-class outdoor skateboarding park on our doorsteps, and as a result there’s been a major uplift in users from a broad cross section of the community, but what comes next, particularly through the winter months? There is, as yet no lighting at the Les Quennevais park, meaning no after school use (when it’s formerly been very busy!), and the ageing St Helier Harbour facility is set to close in September. How can they keep the momentum going over winter?
The aspiration, which is getting ever closer to a reality, is to open the doors of Skate Space in St Ouen. Set inside a majestic former Church, a building which has been left unused for several decades, will be a series of indoor ramps which allow users all year-round access to build and develop their skills. Right now all they need is their planning permission to be passed and an injection of additional funds to help them fit out the park. Once permission is granted, they have plans to open a winter ‘pop up’ to help bridge the gap during the colder months.
Up to this point they’ve been able to have their plans drawn up by a local architect and progress with their planning application thanks to an injection of funds from a Connect Me micro grant, which has been invaluable to getting to this point in their project. The Connect Me: Connecting our Communities Grant Scheme is a Government of Jersey initiative that provides grants of up to £5,000 for projects which increase opportunities for Jersey residents to participate in arts or physical activities for wellbeing. The grant awarded to SKATE SPACE to develop their plans and architect’s drawings is one of 93 different projects which have been supported by the scheme since being set up in 2022.
Supporting the development of young skateboarders through initiatives like Skate Space Jersey has numerous benefits, not only for the skaters themselves but for the community and society as a whole. It also helps to encourage physical activity, helps with skill development, gives a sense of purpose and, of course, has an incredibly positive impact on mental health. The Skate Space has already started collaborating with La Passerelle, local ADHD charities and the Youth Service – to work collaboratively on ways to interact with young people who are struggling to engage positively with education in other areas of their life.
Let’s hope that the team at Skate Space can make this incredible project a reality very soon.