LINKS
2015-08-06 / Sports

Build a skatepark and the kids will come

By Tom Crash
Times correspondent


Tribal president John Yellow Bird Steele, with his headdress on, poses with kids who came out to the grand opening of the new skatepark in Manderson on Saturday and with the many people who helped make it happen; photo courtesy of Franklin Poor Bear. Tribal president John Yellow Bird Steele, with his headdress on, poses with kids who came out to the grand opening of the new skatepark in Manderson on Saturday and with the many people who helped make it happen; photo courtesy of Franklin Poor Bear. MANDERSON—With the help of Levi’s, Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament and the Vitalogy Foundation, Stronghold Society and Grindline Skateparks of Seattle, a new WK4- Direction Skatepark was completed in Manderson and a grand opening on Saturday morning attracted kids from Manderson, Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge..

“This was a labor of love,” said Walt Pourier of Stronghold Society out of Denver, “from the designers, those who built it, those who contributed resources, everyone has been committed to making it happen here in Pine Ridge at first and now in Manderson and we plan on building two more on Pine Ridge Reservation before we move on to other parts of Indian Country.”

The grand opening started slowly Saturday morning but soon kids invaded the new skatepark located on the grounds of Wounded Knee District School in Manderson. As many as 75 professional skateboards were given away during the event along with pads and helmets.

“This is a great event, not just for Manderson and Wounded Knee District but the entire reservation,” said John Yellow Bird Steele who was in attendance to share insight with those gathered but also to thank all those who made it happen, “we need more of these on the reservation and we definitely need more activities for our youth.”

Conscious Alliance distributed healthy food and brought two artists with them to work on art projects with the youth, professional skaters worked with the kids on their techniques and the district sponsored a cookout for everyone in attendance.

“This is what it is all about, people coming together to build something for the kids, we need more projects like this for our youth,” said Garf Steele, Wounded Knee District chair, “we see kids coming over here as early as 6am and some staying until midnight, the school and the community have really pitched in to help as well.”

We are on the road a lot, being involved in projects like this helps to keep me centered, added Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, I grew up in a small town of about 800 in Montana, so I can identify with small communities, we’re working on three of these parks in Montana right now.

“We want to use skate boarding or art or music to connect our youth with life,” said Pourier, “we are pushing a live life movement for our youth, that’s why all of these people and groups have come together.”

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