Post and Courier: Local Skate Parks Carve Positive Niche in the Community

Local skate parks carve positive niche in the community
By Samantha Test
Special to The Post and Courier
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Skateboarders don’t see the world like everyone else does.

Stairs are not a way to go up and down, rails are not for maintaining your balance and empty swimming pools are not something to be refilled. They are obstacles on which skateboarders perform, let loose, express themselves and unleash their creativity. They are the means for an entire way of life.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees the same thing. And not everyone can agree on the art of skateboarding.

That’s why there are skate parks.

The three in Charleston are making everyone happy and benefit both skateboarder and community: Ackerman Park in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant Skatepark and The Park in North Charleston. They are providing skateboarders with a place to go as well as a place to call their own and to just have fun, the point of skateboarding.

“Having a skate park benefits you. You get to do what you love to do without being harassed,” said founding partner of The Park, Jonathan Dixon. “Here, it’s a family feel, a backyard feel. Everyone here knows each other and takes care of each other. It just giving kids a place to go. You get to go someplace and do what you love to do.”

Dixon remembers when he was a teenager in Greenville and the fun he had at the city’s newly built skate park. He knows firsthand the benefits of giving youth an outlet for their energy and passion.

“Charleston didn’t really have anything for kids. It’s a beautiful city and nice to cruise around, but kids didn’t really have a place of their own: built by skateboarders, for skateboarders. It’s where you make your friends,” he said.

“My main goal is to make sure kids have as much fun as I did when I was a kid and that skate park was a huge part of it. I made friends for life; because of skateboarding, you have these bonds for life. I just want to give kids a place of their own, a place they can feel comfortable when they come in every day and have fun.”

Mark Friedrich, recreation specialist for the town of Mount Pleasant’s recreation department, agrees.

“It provides a supervised setting, protected from vehicle traffic, for skating and learning to skate. Parents know that their children have a safe, supervised area to skate available,” he said. “As with other athletic facilities, they provide an environment to participate in and master the skills of their sport, improve physical fitness, relax and interact socially.”

Providing skateboarders with safe, adequate facilities just like any other sport is just as important to Ryan Cockrell as it is to Dixon and Friedrich. He’s executive director of Pour It Now, a South Carolina skate park advocacy group.
“We’re a dedicated group of volunteers helping the city harness the positive energy that skateboarders posses and provide recreational opportunities for skaters. Skateboarders outnumber participants in most traditional sports,” Cockrell said.

“The main thing is skateboarders possess an extreme desire to participate in their activity and whether there are facilities or not, they will find a way to skateboard and that can mean negative consequences.

“In every sport, you need to provide adequate facilities for what’s going on. Skate parks, if they’re nonexistent or too crowded, then the skateboarders go elsewhere and recreate where it’s inappropriate. Potentially it’s an organic way to control skateboarding traffic in your city. It’s better to provide facilities that attract skaters out of the streets and into the park.”

By allowing skateboarders an appropriate place to go, they also reap many other benefits. Cockrell explained that skateboarding is so much fun, skaters don’t realize they’re exercising or building life skills.

“I think part of it is that freedom and lack of rules. It’s a goal-oriented, patience-oriented activity and that’s a part of why it’s so fun: you don’t feel like you’re participating in a sport. You don’t have to show up on time, you go at your own pace, your own style. There are no coaches telling you where and when and why and how to do it,” Cockrell continued.

“It’s part sport, part art, part culture. You get a lot of rewards from the amount that you work. That’s a natural, addictive feeling – that feeling of accomplishment. From a basic trick up to the most technical tricks, you have that exact same feeling of accomplishment. You earned it. That ability to practice and understand the pay off of continuing to work at something transfers into your daily life and builds life skills.”

As with any other activity, skateboarding also keeps skaters out of trouble.

“There are some kids that if they did not have The Park, they would be out getting in trouble,” Dixon said. “They say idle time is the devil’s tool. There’s so many kids that instead of getting in trouble, come to the park and skate.”

Dixon, a former school teacher and police officer, has plenty of experience keeping kids out of trouble. Running The Park and being there on a daily basis has made him a role model for many young skaters.

“Sometimes what you say has a bigger impact than parents,” he said. “I have parents that will ask me to talk to their kids if they’re having trouble in school or with their girlfriend or other kids are smoking and they don’t know what to do.”

The positive environment that skate parks provide has been invaluable for many skateboarders. Friedrich, Dixon and Cockrell all agree that skateboarders are some of the most creative, motivated, dedicated and upstanding youth in the community.

“Some people may feel that skateboarders are undisciplined or not interested in academics,” said Friedrich. “We employ two skaters to work our skate park and teach skateboard camps. Both are honor students in high school, one at Wando and the other at the School of the Arts.”

“If you’re a kid, you should only be worried about enjoying life,” Dixon said.

And that’s something everyone can agree on. So in the words of Dixon, shut up and skate.

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ABC News 4: Civic Action Exhibit Showcases Groups Making a Big Change

Charleston, SC – The ‘Civic Action Exhibit’ showcases the work of about a dozen local groups giving a closer look at the what each one is doing to improve the charleston area.

“The idea of working with various groups that have their own mission or their own vision about how they want to change the city, it may not have to do with urban design, but its still about some of that civic pride and that civic activism that makes for a better community,” Micahel Maher said.

Pour It Now, a skateboard advocacy group is working with the City of Charleston to find a place to build a world class skate park that will give the 5,000 skateboarders in the Lowcountry a safe place to enjoy their sport.
“We want them to understand these kids are brilliant, theyre very creative, intelligent and very skilled, they just don’t have a place to exercise that,” Shannon Smith said.

And Louis Yuhasz of Louies Kids is working to find a solution to childhood obesity and hopes more people will get involved.

“There are 25 million children that are affected by obesity and were just doing our part here in the Lowcountry and trying to bring it to the nation, I think this gives us an opportunity to show people our success here and how were helping kids here climb mountains,” Yuhasz said.

From beautification projects to a push to make charleston more bike-friendly you’ll likely find a cause you care about, and for many it all starts with kids.

In addition to the exhibit, each group will also come in the evenings to answer questions about what each group does specifically to improve Charleston.

“We just developed a program here in Charleston an after school program so were really excited about that, and we have some new things coming up like run-buddies, where well essentially be doing the same thing within this program, but just one-on-one with different athlete mentors volunteers and kids.”

The exhibit opens Friday morning and runs through August 7. The exhibit is free and open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Civic Design Center located at 85 Calhoun Street Downtown.

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Pour It Now Charleston Film

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POUR IT NOW Event Makes Best of 2008

The Charleston Post and Courier featured POUR IT NOW in their best local events of 2008!

2008 was still brand-spankin’ new when I rolled into the now-defunct Map Room in West Ashley, ready to support and ready to dance. Even into the holidays, skateboarding advocates for Charleston’s Pour It Now foundation were happy to keep on giving right through the new year. Local skaters were on hand to raise funds and awareness. Their goal? To build a skatepark on the peninsula of downtown Charleston, providing a safe haven to skate.


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Legendary: The Pool – Charleston, SC

If you have ever skated in Charleston, SC then you might have heard about The Pool. For those that had the opportunity to skate it and live it, check out the video in progress and reflect on days gone by.  If you missed the chance to skate it, go ahead and live vicariously through the video. Artist and Skateboarder, Kevin Earl Taylor, is compiling video, photos and interviews in an effort to create a more complete documentary about this beloved skate spot from downtown Charleston.  If you have something to add to the video please contact Kevin through or

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