Grand Cayman’s skate park has been taken over by a new nonprofit organization which hopes to rid the venue of vandalism, bullying and drugs and use the sport to inspire young people.
The Black Pearl Skate Park, among the largest concrete skate parks in the world, was closed for four months and reopened in July after being taken over by the Cayman Islands Skateboard Association.
The association says its mission is “to maintain a world-class skate park in the Cayman Islands; to keep the park a healthy, safe environment, free of graffiti and litter, while fostering self-confidence, good health, strength and pride with the youth of our islands.”
Michael Myles, the Ministry of Education’s At-Risk Youth Coordinator and chairman of the association, is responsible for the operation of the 62,000-square-foot park.
He said more than 200 students from the Ministry of Education/Royal Cayman Islands Police Service skateboard club visit the park between Monday and Friday, and it needed to be improved. “The park was blighted by vandalism, bullying, drugs and bad behavior. There was a motivation to improve the standards,” he said.
Volunteers have cleaned up the park, removed the graffiti and repaired the fencing. It is now manned by staff during opening hours, Monday-Sunday, 3 p.m. until sunset. The association has established a skateboard shop which rents equipment and offers daily memberships.
The association says it use of the park has increased, and competitions were hosted Sept. 28 and Nov. 30, with around 30 competitors taking part.
California pro skater Chet Thomas will be in Cayman for the next competition, the Christmas Skate Jam, on Dec. 21.
“This is the big one,” Mr. Myles said. “…Chet Thomas is flying in to spend some one-on-one time with the local skateboarders, pass on some of his skills and experience, as well as be a guest judge for the competition.”
Mr. Myles believes skateboarding provides an outlet for young people which keeps them out of trouble, off the streets and involved in fun, constructive activities. He said it is an avenue to reach potentially at-risk youngsters and get them on the right path.
He said the association encourages the employment of young aspiring skateboarders because it enables them to be mentors and coaches at the park. Eighteen year old, Jon-Mikol Rankin is one of the new recruits.
He said the aspiring professional skateboarder is also an entrepreneur and has established a small business selling skateboards at the shop.
“Jon-Mikol is now aspiring to broaden his business talent to providing more retail products, such as clothing, bikes and scooters,” said Mr. Myles.
“My aim is to be the first professional skateboarder from the Cayman Islands,” said Rankin.
He said he was also interested in helping younger skaters progress in the sport and as people. He hopes to introduce a Bible reading night as part of the skate club’s activities.
Mr. Myles thanked KPMG, VIBE, SPIN, Maples, Jimmy Powell and other donors and well-wishers who have assisted in the implementation of the association and park. The association is hoping to raise approximately $15,000 to light the park and buy additional equipment.
For details on how to donate, call 947-4161 or email [email protected]
“My aim is to be the first professional skateboarder from the Cayman Islands.” Jon-Mikol Rankin