Ramping up drug education
Parents using incident at Bay Roberts skateboard park to help raise awareness
Young residents of Bay Roberts and the surrounding communities couldn’t hold back their enthusiasm last week as their brand new skate park at the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex was officially reopened.
Some 100 youth, parents and observers attended the reopening celebrations June 23 to use the facility and get a glance at special guests, the Ballistic skate team from St. John’s, who gave demonstrations of their skateboard skills and tricks.
Dozens of skateboarders, almost as many scooters enthusiasts and a handful of cyclists took advantage of the beautiful summer sun, taking turns on the ramps and being courteous to those who were not quite as experienced.
Six-year-old Brookelyn Drover of Bay Roberts was one of the youngest riders at the park and one of only a handful of girls.
Even though she wasn’t as quick as some of the scooter-riding boys on the park’s BMX track, she rode her bike carefully and fiercely with no concerns of being run over or knocked off the track.
“The kids are being very courteous; taking turns,” Mayor Phillip Wood said, pointing to the top of the skateboard ramps and the track. “Even the older boys are letting the younger kids have a chance.”
The discovery of drug paraphernalia prompted the closure of the park June 12, only a couple of weeks after it opened. But many parents in the area have used it as an eye-opening experience to teach their kids what to do when faced with a drug situation.
Brookelyn’s mother, Elizabeth Drover, had three children using the park — Brookelyn, eight-year-old Alekz and 10-yearold Jaemee. She discussed with her children the importance of safety, especially when she or others adults are not around.
“I showed my children what a syringe looks like so they know what to look for,” she told The Compass while her children rolled along the track beside her. “I taught them some general rules to follow, including to always keep safety in mind, don’t talk to strangers and don’t take anything from anyone you don’t know.”
Nine-year-old Ben Hussey was a first-time visitor of the facility. In fact, this was his first experience with a skateboard.
His parents, Robert and Heather Hussey of Clarke’s Beach, know about the reason the park was shut down but they, too, used the situation as a teaching tool.
“The park closing opened up a doorway to talk to our son about drug concerns,” Heather explained.
“The biggest concern is you can’t ignore a problem and think it’ll go away. It’s a double-edged sword,” Robert added.
The town has installed surveillance cameras in the area, ensuring there are “no blind spots” for people to hide.
“There will be more patrolling in the area by the (Trinity Conception) RCMP and our municipal enforcement officer,” Wood said.
Wood also confirms there are “up to 12” cameras at a cost of some $10,000 set up around the complex.
The Husseys, who also have a young daughter, Addison, believe the town did the right thing closing the doors to the park and creating a plan to curb the problem.
“We have no issue with allowing our kids to come to the skate park,” Heather acknowledged. “All the kids here are staying out of trouble.”
Wood is confident the monitoring of the park will help alleviate the concern, but believes there is a bigger issue out there — the drug problem itself.
“As a society we have to come together to solve this drug issue,” Wood said.
The general consensus during the event was exactly that — the issue is not isolated.
Some parents said they see it everywhere and in every community, so it is not specific to Bay Roberts.
Parents of the community created a Facebook group called Drug Information and Support as a forum to discuss what to tell their children about drugs.
Members of the group attended the event to applaud the town for the steps they took after the initial discovery.
“This is a step in the right direction,” one mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said. Several other parents nodded in agreement.
To celebrate the reopening of the park, the town asked the Ballistic skate team to give demonstrations and give out prizes to participants. Some 20-members showcased their skills and tricks during the event, but more importantly they also assisted younger skateboarders.
Ben, the new skateboarder, took some advice from one of the members of the team.
Darryl Denine said he was happy to be able to help some kids get their bearings, and spent a bit of time showing Ben the ropes.
“It will all come in time, you just has to stick with it,” Denine explained to Ben.
All of the kids wore helmets and proper clothing in case of a fall.
The town has posted a new set of rules for the park, which includes emergency contact information and two cellphone numbers.
The park will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but will still be under 24-hour surveillance.
A group of young scooter and bike riders attended the grand reopening of the skate park. These boys, from left, are Cameron Caravan (10), Brady Oates (10), Aaron Boone (11), Cameron Baker (11), Ethan Reginald Kavanagh-Day (10) and Matthew Legge (9).
She may have been one of the youngest on the course, and one of the only females participating in the reopening event, but six-year-old Brookelyn Drover kept up with the boys on the BMX track during her visit.
Nine-year-old Ben Hussey from Clarke’s Beach was shown the basics of skateboarding by Ballistic skate team member Darryl Denine. It was Ben’s first time on a board.
Skateboarders came to the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex from several communities around Bay Roberts to use the newly reopened skate park. Grinding the straight rail is 19-year-old Jason Gellatly from Carbonear.
Jordan Lilly from Ballistic skate team demonstrates a high jump off the skate park’s biggest ramp.
Showcasing his skills on his orange scooter, eight-yearold Alexander Clarke of Upper Island Cove bravely faces the ramp with boys more than twice his age.
Cody Debeau of Bay Roberts grinds the block with his board during the festivities.
Aaron Attwood (13) of Bay Roberts prepares himself to make the jump off the quarter pipe with his scooter.
A new skateboard was thrown over the fence into the tennis courts as a challenge for the kids in attendance. The first to reach it was Dustin Snow, who won himself the board for his efforts.