Praise also given to local police
© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
Eleven-year-old Keegan-Joe Bernard got some airtime while his friends watched yesterday at the Amherst Lions Skate Park in Amherst. All the skateboarders are from Summerside, P.E.I. They are: (from left) Breton Brown, Riley Barlow, Bradley Fraser, Drake Marchbank, Ethan Haakman, and is brother Spencer Haakman.
AMHERST – Seven skateboarders from Summerside, P.E.I. practiced yesterday at the Amherst Lions Skate Park.
“This is my first time here and I’m loving it already and I want to come back,” said Bradley Fraser, who was there with his teammates from the Generation XX indoor skate park in Summerside.
Several of the skaters have been to the park before.
Jan And Melanie Haakman have two sons, 12-year-old Spencer and 10-year-old Ethan, who are both part of the Generation XX team.
“My family lives in Nova Scotia so usually, when we’re passing by, we stop on the way back to the Island,” said Melanie.
As part of their summer vacation the Haakman’s travelled to six skate parks in the last three days and Spencer said the Amherst skate park is one of his favourites.
The Generation XX skate park has been open since 1997 and is a drop-in centre for Summerside youth.
Aaron Jackson is the assistant manager of the Summerside park. He was also in Amherst yesterday.
“The skate community is a pretty small and tight community, and Amherst has a reputation throughout the Maritimes as being tied for one of the best parks,” said Jackson. “It’s a small park but with the square footage they have here they’ve done a lot to accommodate many different skating styles. New Line (Skate Parks) did a great job in designing this park.”
Asked what parks are comparable, Jackson said, “Saint John (N.B.) also has an awesome park, as well as the commons in Halifax, but that’s a little older and more aggressive, whereas here is a place where kid can learn to skateboard and not get run over by a big guy in the process.”
He says the Amherst park is fast.
“It’s nice that it has a street aspect built into it but it still has vertical aspects built into it as well, so if you’re a street skater, a vert skater or a bowl skater there is something here for you,” said Jackson. “With a vert built into every wall it’s not just back and forth, it’s more circular, so no matter where you are you can get speed or hit a feature. It’s well thought out in 360 degrees.”
Summerside has two skate parks, one indoor and one outdoors, and Jackson said there is zero tolerance for no helmets among the Generation XX skaters, but the same doesn’t hold true of skaters at the outdoor park in Summerside.
The Generation XX skaters arrived at the Amherst park at 11 a.m. and by 3 p.m. had seen the police roll by the park four times.
“I would love to applaud the police activity that goes on around this park keeping every kid wearing helmets. I wish our town would do that,” said Jackson. “I saw four kids scurry to their kit bags and grab a helmet when the police rolled by this morning. This is brilliant.”
Jan Haakman agrees.
“Kids think they’re invincible, so it’s nice to see the police come by to remind them that they aren’t invincible.”
Jackson said a kid in Summerside suffered a serious head injury just last week.
“If the police in Summerside were more concerned and monitored the area that wouldn’t have happened,” said Jackson. “You’re talking about a 10-year-old kid with a serious head injury.”
Jackson also likes zero tolerance for graffiti at the Amherst park, which isn’t the case in Summerside.
“They did put up some graffiti walls as a designated graffiti area in Summerside but it gave the youth an excuse to have spray paint in their backpacks,” said Jackson. “They would tag things that were designated but other things beside the designated areas get tagged as well, so vulgarity would ensue.
“What they have down here looks nice and clean and nothing is offensive for young and old.”
Jackson said they’ll definitely be back.
“This is a great park. You don’t realize what you have here,” said Jackson. “You’ll definitely see the Summerside crew over here again.”