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Warm Springs celebrates new, 8,000-square foot skatepark

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs recognized the opening of a newly renovated skatepark with a blessing and community celebration on Wednesday. Organizers also gave away 100 free skateboards, helmets and sets of pads, with pro skaters on hand to give demos and tips.

“Free play, unstructured play is essential for the healthy development of young minds,” Benjamin Bashein, executive director of The Skatepark Project, which spearheaded the overhaul, told KLCC.

The more than $200,000 investment enabled the pouring of a new concrete foundation and created features - like rails, jumps, curved walls and other obstacles – for all ages and abilities, and includes some shade for when the hot weather moves in.

The Skatepark Project is a nonprofit organization founded by legendary street skater Tony Hawk, and focuses on Native, indigenous and BIPOC communities to develop free, safe, accessible skate parks.

“In this country, young people get, on average, four to seven minutes of unstructured play a day, which is not nearly enough," Bashein said. "And among all of the things that a person could do, you know, we happen to think that skateboarding is the raddest."

Action sports retailer Tactics, skatepark builders Collective Concrete, apparel brand Ginew, and the PTM Foundation, a charitable organization established by the band Portugal. The Man, are among the project’s sponsors.

“We worked closely to solicit input from young people in the community about the type of park that they wanted, to bring together local, public and private partners, to provide our own grant making to fund the renovation of the park so that it can be a permanent resource for generations of young people and community members of Warm Springs,” Bashein said.

The community’s old skatepark was in disrepair and had become unsafe to use. Doing something about it was a natural fit with TSP’s mission, said Bashein, underscoring the importance of having a safe place to play, especially for young people who may not have an interest in, or access to, organized sports.

“It's that famous third space between school and home where they can go to be safe, to learn, to grow, to build relationships. It's an essential outlet for young people,” he said.

Jill Burke became KLCC's arts reporter in February, 2023.