LITTLE BOSTON — On a webisode produced by the Sheckler Foundation, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe anthropologist Josh Wisniewski talks of looking out his office window daily and seeing young people riding skateboards, inline skates or bikes “with no real place to go to ride them and express themselves in their creativity.”
That’s about to change. North Kitsap’s newest skatepark, proposed on the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, is taking shape with a growing list of community supporters. Construction could begin in spring 2013.
The proposed skatepark was chosen last spring via social media as the best of four projects nominated by the foundation, which was founded by professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler to assist projects that benefit and enrich the lives of children and injured athletes. The skatepark is the foundation’s first project.
Foundation representatives say their way of accomplishing a project is more about community empowerment than throwing money at it. In its Be The Change campaign, foundation representatives engage community members to make the project a reality — the idea being it doesn’t take money to “be the change.”
A social network was activated and hundreds of people submitted plans to be the change in their communities. The foundation nominated four causes to be voted on by the social network; the skatepark received the most votes.
A webisode on YouTube tells the story of the ensuing campaign to build the skatepark in Little Boston. The webisode outlines how the Sheckler Foundation is partnering with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and members of the community to build the skatepark.
Kelly Sullivan, the Tribe’s executive director of tribal services, said the project will provide another valuable recreation outlet for local children.
“There’s no place for kids to skate [on the reservation], so there aren’t as many skaters as there can be,” said. “We’re trying to increase opportunities for activity, places to be socially. We see kids skating on the street and in parking lots. We want to create a place for them to learn it and master the skills.”
Some young people said the skatepark will break down social barriers; their non-Native friends don’t visit the reservation, but they said that will likely change when the skatepark is built.
Sullivan said the foundation has been providing various services for the project, from fundraising to engaging the community to soliciting donations of labor and materials.
Here’s how the community is engaged: The Tribe is providing the site for the skatepark, located near the Teekalet neighborhood. The site was selected by the youth leadership group SWAG — S’Klallams Working and Giving.
“It’s an unused, visible area that would be accessible by most kids,” Sullivan said. “It’s protected and safe, and a place we can eventually develop into a larger recreation site, with trails and a park. But right now, our focus is just the skatepark.”
After the site was selected, Angelique Zaki of the foundation visited Little Boston to help plan the skatepark’s development. She connected the Tribe’s planning department with Grindline Skateparks, a skatepark developer in Seattle which has built more than 120 parks — from Okinawa, Japan, to Orcas Island to Oxford, Miss. Grindline is donating its design services, Zaki said.
After Eglon Landscaping learned of the project and met with foundation representatives, the company donated its services and cleared the park site.
S’Klallam Tribe planning director Joe Sparr said it was “moving” to see such generosity from a company that had, like so many local companies, been negatively affected by the economic downturn. “They came forward eagerly and they’re talking about giving generously. It’s touching to see that. It means a lot. It’s clearly from the heart,” Sparr said in the webisode.
Other project partners: Map Ltd., construction and civil engineers of Silverdale, surveying services; Krazan & Associates of Poulsbo, soils testing; and Coho Concrete of Kingston, concrete laying.
“We’ve got the hard part done, now we have to raise the money,” Zaki said, adding that the project will include a basketball court. Total project cost: approximately $75,000.
Zaki said more webisodes are planned, a series to show other communities how to do similar projects themselves.
“To be the change you want to make in the world, you don’t have to have a lot of money,” she said. “You don’t have to be Ryan Sheckler or a Kobe Bryant to make a difference. You have to activate your community.”
Zaki said she’ll be back in Little Boston with a videographer within the next couple of months. She said she hopes the project breaks ground in spring.
When finished, the S’Klallam skatepark will be one of four skateparks in the area. Other skateparks are located in Kingston, at Raab Park in Poulsbo, and at Clear Creek Park in Silverdale.
According to the Sheckler Foundation website, the foundation was created in 2008 “as an avenue for Ryan Sheckler, his family, friends and business associates to give back to the community and industry that they are so grateful for.”
Sheckler, 22, is a professional skateboarder from San Clemente, Calif. He was the star of the MTV reality show “Life of Ryan,” and has been featured in 11 films and TV series. He is also a playable character in five Tony Hawk skateboarding video games.
As a professional skateboarder, he is sponsored by Red Bull, Etnies, Plan B, Oakley, Nixon, Go Pro, Independent, bones, Grizzly, CCS, and Ethika.
For information on the project and how you can help, go to www.shecklerfoundation.org.