A Skatepark For Native Americans, A Skatepark For Everyone
Tony Hawk Foundation Helps Fund Skatepark To Bridge Communities.
The Tony Hawk Foundation Board of Directors has announced its Spring 2009 skatepark grant awards. Twice annually the foundation's Board selects skatepark projects that best match several criteria—applicants' skateparks must be located in low-income communities, involve the skaters in all aspects of skatepark development (from negotiating with local leaders, to fundraising, to helping design the skatepark), and be designed and built by experienced skatepark specialists. Twenty-two projects were selected for grant awards from 73 applicants, receiving a total of $175,000 to assist in the construction of their free public skateparks.
Pawhuska, Oklahoma earned the top grant award of $25,000 for its skatepark that will draw visitors from the local Osage Nation Native American and other non-Native communities. In 2007, local skaters formed the Make It Happen In Pawhuska committee to promote the skatepark concept. Endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, they convinced other area business and nonprofit groups, the City of Pawhuska, and the Osage Nation leadership to join them and to combine resources to build a quality, durable public skatepark. "The community could see the need to provide a safe environment for a sport that's growing in popularity," says Cindy Helmer, Chairman of Make It Happen In Pawhuska (MHP). "It's clearly a sport that includes any and all youth—regardless of size, age, color, or academic ability."
"In this area of Oklahoma, there are several small towns without many amenities," says Greg Mize, an Osage/Quapaw Native and skatepark builder who's been working with MHP to make the skatepark a regional attraction. "Kids from many miles around will come—Indian and non-Indian alike—flocking to Pawhuska to skate."
Helmer says the Tony Hawk Foundation grant has convinced local leaders that the skaters' vision of a custom concrete skatepark was worth committing to: "The donation from the Tony Hawk Foundation will allow this committee to build a first-class skatepark, versus the original modular skatepark that the City of Pawhuska was pursuing. The 'Tony Hawk' stamp on the project also raises the level of excitement and enthusiasm from youth and parents alike."
With the success of the Pawhuska project, Mize has reached out to Tribal leaders across Oklahoma, Colorado, and Florida to help them start similar skatepark projects. "The idea is to get concrete venues at many tribal locations and begin to arrange regional competitions," he says. "These would culminate at a 'Nationals' held at the All Nations Skate Jam in Albuquerque [New Mexico]."
The MHP example, he believes, will inspire other Native American communities make it happen for themselves, too.
Spring 2009 Tony Hawk Foundation Skatepark Grants were awarded to the following organizations:
Pawhuska, Oklahoma (Pawhuska Community Foundation)
Kapa'au,Hawaii (Roots Advocates for Youth)
Chicago, Illinois (Enlace Chicago)
Portland, Maine (City of Portland Maine)
Batesville, Mississippi (Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi)
Celina, Ohio (City of Celina)
Lockhart, Texas (Skate Park of San Marcos)
Sinton, Texas (City of Sinton)
Shelton, Washington (Squaxin Island Tribe)
Parkersburg, West Virginia (City of Parkersburg)
Nome, Alaska (Nome Community Center, Inc.)
Brazil, Indiana (Clay Community Parks Association, Inc.)
Frenchburg, Kentucky (Menifee County Fiscal Court)
Federalsburg, Maryland (Town of Federalsburg)
Minneapolis, Minnesota (Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation)
Sebeka, Minnesota (City of Sebeka)
Bucyrus, Ohio (The Bucyrus Area Community Foundation)
Colerain Township, Ohio (Colerain Township, Ohio)
Marietta, Ohio (City of Marietta)
Sallisaw, Oklahoma (City of Sallisaw)
Eugene, Oregon (Skaters For Public Skateparks)
Port Orchard, Washington (Port Orchard Rotary Foundation)
The Tony Hawk Foundation's Fall 2009 grant season officially begins August 15 when the grant application goes live on the foundation's Web site. The deadline for completing Tony Hawk Foundation Skatepark Grant applications for the Fall season is October 1, 2009. Details are available at the Foundation's Web site.