Former Port Hardy Councillor Stephen Ralph was invited to Lani Siminoff’s Grade six class at Sunset Elementary School in Port McNeill to give a presentation on making change happen in their community.
“We’re learning about government, so we brought in Mayor Shirley Ackland to teach us about our local government. The kids were really excited about the potential of making change in their community,” said Siminoff, adding that the kids were really interested in getting a skatepark built in Port McNeill.
“Stephen is a friend of mine and I knew he was involved with the KSM skatepark in Port Hardy – so I talked with him about it and he said he would love to come in and talk to the kids.”
Ralph gave a powerpoint presentation on how he and his friends managed to bring the KSM skatepark to life.
“My friends got together and made a decision as a group. We formed a club, got a logo and a brand, and started to become friends with the local businesses,” said Ralph during his presentation.
“We showed the community that we just wanted to practice our sport. We went to town council and asked the local government to help build us a skatepark. They were kind of against it, so we had to show them that we really wanted a park and we deserved it. We did some fundraisers and skateboarded from Port McNeill to Port Hardy. It took us four and a half hours to finish, and it was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done.”
The group also did garbage pickups to show they wanted to make a difference in the community. “We wanted to show the community we lived in that we cared about the community,” said Ralph.
Town council gave them the land for the park, and the local rotary helped them with money to build the cement pad for the park.
Then the group applied for some funding and built the ramps that are there now.
They held competitions and promoted safety on wheels. The group believed in what they were doing and it helped them out immensely.
Ralph then answered questions from the class about how to get a skatepark built in their community, before giving this reporter a brief interview afterwards in the parking lot.
“Lani asked me to come in and talk to her class. I felt it went good, anytime young people are inspired to make change in their community is a good thing. I was happy to be able to share with them my experience in community activism and volunteerism.”
The KSM skatepark clearly means a lot to Ralph. He and his friends put their blood, sweat and tears into the project from 2001 onwards.
“We really had to show skateboarding could be a positive part of the community, and that’s what we worked towards.