In 2016 I took a career break from my previous job as a police officer in London and embarked on a journey volunteering on projects around the world, but there came a time when I sought a new challenge, so I decided to combine my experience supporting vulnerable young people on the fringes of dangerous gang lifestyles and my passion for action sports as a tool for engagement, by building a skatepark in a location where the need was great.
During my research, I found that Jamaica has the 5th highest murder rate in the world, a thriving community of skaters, but not a single skatepark on the island. It was then that I discovered the heart-breaking story of Andre "Wildfiyah" Thompson, a 20 year-old Jamaican skater who took part in a mini-documentary, with Andre clearly expressing his wish for a skatepark on the island. These would be the last recorded words Andre would speak, as he was senselessly killed days after it was filmed. On seeing this video, I made a commitment that I would help Andre's dream come true and not stop campaigning until there was a skatepark in Kingston.
Freedom Skatepark & Youth Centre
In order to make this project a reality, I founded a UK registered charity named Flipping Youth and set off to Jamaica to learn about the culture and spend time getting to know the skate community in Kingston. Fast forward 3 years and we have an amazing team of people committed to the project, we have secured the land in Kingston and raised £100,000 to build the skatepark. However, in order for the project to be sustainable and provide opportunity for the skaters in a place where youth unemployment levels are high, we have decided to build a youth centre at the skatepark that will focus on education and youth entrepreneurship.
The youth centre will provide a multi-purpose creative platform for the community to teach skate workshops, host music events or curate arts/crafts exhibitions. It will be a youth-led project and provide salaries for local skaters to manage the overall running of the skatepark on a daily basis. We will focus on working with less privileged young people who are at-risk of youth violence and not currently in education or employment. There will also be free workshops delivered to under-represented groups to encourage wider participation in action sports and positive social mixing, such as targeted sessions for young women or those living with a disabilities. Skateboarding has also just been announced as an official Olympic sport, so we shall be enabling the dream of competing on the worlds biggest stage to be a possibility by providing a professional training facility.
Flipping Youth has now teamed up with both local and international organisations to create the Freedom Park Steering Committee, which includes the Concrete Jungle Foundation, Seprod Foundation, Sandals Foundation and Tmrw.Tday Culture Festival. We have also received donations from The Skateroom and Sole DXB. As well as corporate partners, we are working closely with the local skaters, senior community figures and passionate volunteers. We have received pro-bono design work from Newline for the Skatepark design and Aecom for the youth centre design.
We shall begin building the Freedom Skatepark and Youth Centre in February 2020 and expect the construction to be completed by early April 2020. The Concrete Jungle Foundation are an awesome team of passionate skaters who last year built Angola's first skatepark, and will be leading the Skatepark construction for us in Jamaica. We shall use local Jamaican building contractor to build the Youth Centre next to the Skatepark.
The following people donated their unique creative skills to help support our campaign by creating an exciting set of rewards in exchange for your donations.
How will your money be spent?
To give you an idea of how your donations will be spent to create the Youth Centre, here is a breakdown of some of the main costs. So far we have received donations amounting to £16,000 towards the youth centre, which will partly go towards paying a local Jamaican contractor to carry out the building works. Some of our budget will also go towards Kickstarter fees and the rewards. Here is an idea of how your donation will be spent.
Risks and challenges
We are confident that our timeline for construction of the Youth Centre will be accurate, particularly as we will be building the Skatepark at the same time, so we will ensure to have the required materials and labour force pre-planned well in advance.
Our rewards will be manufactured to order when the campaign finishes, with items being produced in the UK, USA and Austria, meaning that there could be a delay in us shipping them out to you, so please be patient with us and we promise to keep you updated :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Environmental commitmentsVisit our Environmental Resources Center to learn how Kickstarter encourages sustainable practices.
- (30 days)