Ramp­ing up drug ed­u­ca­tion

Par­ents us­ing in­ci­dent at Bay Roberts skate­board park to help raise aware­ness

The Compass - - NEWS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS SPE­CIAL TO THE COM­PASS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

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.”

Drug aware­ness

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.

Safety first

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.

Of­fer­ing as­sis­tance

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.

Pho­tos by Melissa/spe­cial to The Com­pass

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.

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