July 6, 2018 5:39 pm
Updated: July 25, 2018 11:46 am

Donations needed to make downtown Edmonton skatepark more accessible for at-risk youth

The Quarters Skatepark in downtown Edmonton.

Morgan Black/Global News
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The Quarters Skatepark was built as a collaboration between the Jasper Place Wellness Centre, iHuman (an organization that works with at-risk youth), the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team and a partnership with The Family Centre, Edmonton Police Service, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and the City of Edmonton.

The park aims to provide a safe space for youth in downtown Edmonton to gather.

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Since it opened at the end of June, it’s been a hit with some skaters, but a lot of the youth that iHuman helps can’t use it because they don’t have skateboards.

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“The youth I spoke to basically said it’s inaccessible,” Daena Crosby said.

“We’re mostly serving homeless, marginalized, traumatized young people who don’t have the means for those kinds of recreational things. When they do get them, they can be stolen or they lose them because of the nature of their lives.”

Russell Wolf Leg, an iHuman youth, is hoping to borrow a friend’s skateboard — or deck — so he can begin utilizing the space.

“I don’t have my own [deck] right now. But, I like that [the Quarters Skatepark] gets the community involved. Other skaters don’t have to go far. We had talked about trying to get a skatepark downtown.”

“Not only does it keep me out of trouble, but it keeps me occupied in a health way.”

The City of Edmonton’s director of urban renewal, Mary Ann Debrinski, said the pilot skatepark came to be after the city noticed a lot of people skateboarding in the downtown area.

“When we checked in with organizations like [iHuman] they thought it was an excellent idea,” she said.

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A temporary skatepark, located on 102A Avenue between 95 Street and 96 Street, was created to test the usage and impact the park would have on the community.

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But, in order for the skatepark to become a permanent feature, the city says it has to be busy.

“We need to be able to see there is an uptake in usage,” Debrinski said. “If there’s a demonstrated usage, we will be able to justify a permanent skatepark in the area at some point.”

Debrinski said the city is monitoring and counting how many people are there throughout the day.

“I’m very optimistic it will be used, and give us a good case to move forward with a permanent skatepark.”

Now, iHuman is asking for donations of skateboards and other equipment so youth can utilize the skatepark.

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As for Wolf Leg, he’s hoping he eventually gets the chance to skateboard at The Quarters.

“I’d love to see it stay.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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