FORT ST. JOHN, BC – Local youth had a chance to learn how to skateboard or showcase their skills at the Rotary Skate Fest on Thursday.

The event was held at the Rotary Skate Park and featured a barbecue by donation, free skateboards donated by the Strait Group, and lessons from local skateboard enthusiast, Cole Andrews and his son Jackson.

Rotary members Lilia Hansen and former Rotary Club president Vince Van Wieringen were pleased with the turnout. 

“[It’s awesome] seeing the smiles. There were probably 15 kids I saw that had scooters, who are now skateboarding, trying kickflips, and going up the banks,” said Van Wieringen.

Community members take in the first Rotary Skate Fest. ( Tre Lopushinsky)

Hansen was happy to see the number of families who came to support their kids. 

“We’ve got parents here, they’re having picnics on the grass and it’s just terrific to see how many people came out,” said Hansen.

Children and youth of all ages had the chance to learn from experienced skateboarders Cole and Jackson Andrews, and some of them were lucky enough to receive a free skateboard. 

“I tell the kids, hey, you know what? This is a good skateboard. Take care of it, and I’d love to see you with this same skateboard next summer,” said Andrews.

Community members take in the first Rotary Skate Fest. ( Tre Lopushinsky)

Andrews believes there should be the same emphasis on skateboarding for children and youth as there is on traditional sports. 

“I’d like people to look at skateboarding like, throughout school, everyone gets a chance to play hockey, football, or whatever. I think everyone should be exposed to skateboarding at some point too.”

WL Construction was also present at today’s Skate Fest, and according to Hansen, they were volunteering their time to help clean up graffiti. 

“We do enjoy a lot of the artwork that is there, but we want to make sure that the words and the sentiments are appropriate.”

Rotarians clean up graffiti during the Rotary Skate Fest. (Tre Lopushinsky)

What’s in store for the future of skateboarding in Fort St. John?

Andrews says he and the Rotary Club hope to fundraise for an addition to the skatepark that will be more inclusive to beginners. 

“This is a hard park to skateboard on. The obstacles are huge, and you notice a lot of beginners don’t really have an area to kind of start on, there’s no beginner area,” said Andrews.

“So, what we were hoping to fundraise for, the next step of this park, would be to build an addition, hopefully, put some smaller obstacles and just some more space for the kids to develop skateboarding on.”

Andrews says he would also like to see the city host skateboarding camps during the winter in the Pomeroy Sports Centre. 

Jordan Prentice is a multimedia reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of BCIT’s Broadcast and Online Journalism program. Born and raised in Vancouver, Jordan’s passion for broadcast and journalism began with her dream of becoming a hockey journalist and play-by-play commentator. During her schooling, Jordan discovered a deep passion for reporting on Indigenous issues, culture and affairs. Jordan is also passionate about connecting with and listening to stories from people...