Last Friday saw Strathmore Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Skatemore Girls, The Wheatland Youth Network and The Rural Mental Health Project come together to discuss the future of the Strathmore Skate Park.

The event itself saw kids from all over Strathmore come together to skate, make art, and share their thoughts on the future of the community's skate park.

Kiana Pollom-Smith is the Social Development Coordinator at FCSS. She was blown away by the attendance and shared what lead to the event on Friday.

“We've received a grant from the Canadian Mental Health Association so we could build community connections in Strathmore after COVID. The beautification of the skate park was one of the projects that we applied for because we identified the skate park as an area with a negative connotation and we wanted to do some work on making it more of a community asset where everyone could go and gather.”

Pollom-Smith also spoke on why they focused on the skatepark itself.

“It was important to us because we identified it as a very important place in our community. A lot of kids do like to go and hang out. We wanted to do this event so that hopefully in the future it could be a place where even more kids hang out and parents feel safer letting their kids go there.”

One of the issues that were touched on Friday was the graffiti in and around the skatepark and how it may lend a negative image of the skatepark to the community. Pollom-Smith illustrates what is being done to help the park grow in this area.

“Well, I hope the skate park will grow to be a more welcoming space for youth. One of the initial ideas we had is doing a mural. Having youth put their time and efforts into creating something together would help them take better care of it and the space. If we were to create a mural and hang it up, likely they would feel less likely to want to vandalize and they would want to take care of this space more. That was something really important to us.”
Pollom-Smith personally finds Strathmores skatepark an important local fixture as it is easily accessible to most schools in Strathmore. In addition, she finds that many individuals find skating to be an effective creative outlet that they are unable to get anywhere else.
This event couldn't be possible without its sponsors and the support from the community. If you would like to help out with events like this in the future call the FCSS directly or visit them in person to see how you can help.
Pollom-Smith also wants to thank Strathmore locals for their help in determining the future of the skatepark and notes that another way to help out is to provide feedback. 
“The community should know that their feedback is very valuable to us. With events like these participation is always awesome. When we're doing other events for the skate park in the future, It's really important to come out and provide feedback on what they would like to see. That is more important than pretty much anything else.”
With summer coming up and events and businesses not being affected by COVID regulations anymore, it's important to consider how locals, especially young ones, will build and foster healthy connections to others after a long period of isolation. The beautification of the skatepark may be the first step in these connections being built more often and lasting longer. At least among Strathmore’s Skaters.

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