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The group trying to bring a skatepark to Albion should be encouraged that the Dekko Foundation has given a $150,000 grant to a similar group doing the same job in Kendallville.

By all accounts, the Kendallville Skatepark Committee worked long and hard at various fund raisers, and their labor of love ultimately led to the grant. Here is clear evidence that the young people of the world can band together to make a difference, and if they can do it with a skatepark, they can do it with anything. There's no reason to think the skateboard fans of Albion, especially with this kind of encouragement, can't accomplish their goals.

Members of the Albion Town Council gave their own clear encouragement when a group of skateboard enthusiasts came to a Council meeting last month, seeking support for their effort. We (I'm on the Council – what were people thinking?) couldn't give financial support, but we did discuss various town properties the park could go on, and otherwise tried to encourage them in any way we could.

And why not? It is a sport, after all, even if it doesn't have its own team franchises (yet). I'd much rather see our kids out playing in the fresh air than sitting on their rears in front of a TV. Some people say skateboarding is an extreme sport, but it's no more extreme than what my brother and I used to do on our bicycles when I was a kid.

I'm not sure how much detail I can go into on that subject; there's a lot my parents never knew. I'm sure they suspected something was wrong the day we walked home with armloads of my little red Schwinn one-speed, but to their credit they let us go back out again the next day. As for my sudden haircut, all I can say is Ring of Fire – bad idea.

I miss my poor Schwinn … but alas, the only thing left was the seat.

Now, I've been wondering what else I can do to support this group of kids, who have every bit as much right to practice their sport as anyone else, as long as they don't damage property or trespass. (And if you think kids with basketballs can't damage property, you've never seen me try to play.) But what could I do? I have no money. I stink at going door to door. I'm too nervous to steal.

Then I remembered that the spokesperson for the skateboarders had mentioned that if the park came to being, she would give all of us on the Council our own skateboards.

I'm pretty sure I heard gasps of horror from the Council members.

As a group we're hardly cowards. Two of us are volunteer firefighters; one spent many years as a deputy sheriff; one is a Vietnam War veteran; and one is a mother and grandmother, making her perhaps the bravest of all. But we're no spring chickens.

Even when we were younger, I don't think any of us spent a lot of time standing upright on a tiny board, flying toward walls at twice the speed of sound. I did the wall thing, but I was sitting on a bike, which makes a world of difference. I never even officially broke a bone, and the wall's just fine.

That's when it hit me. An idea, I mean, not a wall. And so I'm here to make an official announcement: I accept the offer of the skateboard.

This is assuming I can, legally. But then what are they going to do – impeach me?

Now, here's the part that will start the donations flowing in. If the skatepark gets built, not only will I accept the skateboard – I'll ride it.

Don't look so surprised – I got onto a skateboard once. I can show you the scar.

That should have some entertainment value, right? Look at how popular those blooper home video shows are. Viewers love to watch people fall down, and if you put my on a skateboard, I'll do that a lot. I'll fall forward, backward, sideways. I'll bruise everything from butt to bunions.

You should know, however, that I am *not* going to do that rail thing. You know, the one where you slide the board down a railing? That's a recipe for doing the splits and crushing body parts I'd very much like to remain undamaged; if I wanted pain there, I'd go to bars and try to pick up women. You'll have to be satisfied with a simple concussion.

I expect I'll never get past the part that includes rolling across a flat surface, which in itself should suffice for several hours of fun, road rash inducing blooper reels. In fact, it'll probably be pretty funny just seeing me wearing a helmet, full pads, and every article of clothing I own.

But then, who knows? Maybe I'll pick up on the finer points of skateboarding. With a few months practice, I might learn to do complicated tricks, such as turning, or stopping. Or how to get going without a hill. Advanced stuff.

All I ask is that someone be standing by with a cell phone, and the ability to dial those three little numbers: 911. Sure, the paramedics will laugh at me, but I'll feebly hold out one hand in a thumbs up sign, and after that the crowd will be on my side.

If nothing else, my chiropractor will make some money on this.


Aug. 30th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
Well I'd sponsor you - where do we send the money?

In the North of the island a group got together some years ago and asked the local council for the use of some land for a BMX track and, just like your council has decided, they were given the use of the land(previously a miniature golf course, on scrubby land very near the sea) but no finance for their project. They then, under the instruction of one man in his early thirties who knew a bit more than the teenagers, built their own BMX course, which is in use every time I drive past it.

Then some other kids asked could they have part of the same site for a skateboard park - and instead of all the humming and hawing going on in a couple of other island towns, the Ramsey council again said 'Yes - go for it.' And it was opened this summer - and teenaged boys, mainly, can be seen outdoors enjoying themselves whenever I go past it.

So encourage your young people to go for it, get sponsors, get a plan, and get it built!
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
I'd never thought of the idea of anyone sending donations based on my column! The town is holding an account for the group -- I'll check and see where they want donations sent, and post it later.

Yay for teenagers being able to get out and be active! Oh, and thanks for the link; I surfed around on it for awhile. It's telling that the Isle of Man has its own film department!
Sep. 9th, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
If there really is someone willing to pay to see me kill myself on the skateboard (and I just now figured out that you were talking about sponsering me on the board, rather than sending a direct donation!) spread the word that the address is:

Albion Skateboard Fund
Albion Municipal Building
P O Box 27
Albion IN USA

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