Seth Compton, the founder and operator of Outloud North Bay says the organization is already putting one of its newest attractions to good use.
OUTLoud now has an indoor mini half-pipe, installed with "a little help from our friends at Ramp to Rail," Compton shares, encouraging physical activity and building self-esteem in the kids who visit the safe and inclusive space at 123 Delaware Ave. in the old Summit Nightclub at the Voyager Inn.
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The ramp is open to both members and guests of any age or skill level. Thanks to a community partnership with Inertia Skate Co operator Amber Moffatt, OUTLoud is offering free skate lessons throughout the summer every Wednesday at 7 p.m. OUTLoud and Inertia have extra skateboards available for those wanting to give it a try.
After this past Wednesday's session that saw 10 young people join in with Inertia's Moffatt and Steven Kudla leading the way, Moffatt says she is pleased with their charges' enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.
"Seth has provided such an amazing space for youth to feel safe and comfortable. It’s so important to have a place like OUTLoud in North Bay," expresses Moffatt.
The instructors admit they have as much fun as the kids.
"I wish people could see the smiles on our faces when we are there," says Moffatt. "Helping people learn something new and being a support system for the next generation is what being a community is about. I strongly believe having a hobby is an important part of development and skateboarding helps build confidence in people. Not everyone who wants to go skateboarding is going to go out and do it by themselves so we are here to help."
Kudla observes, "Skateboarding has a huge community aspect to it, helping younger skaters, showing them how to be more comfortable on their boards, and how to express their creativity is super important. It’s a great way to use my years of experience to help boost the self-confidence and abilities of the next generation of skateboarders in North Bay."
Compton notes skateboarding has a history of inclusion as a sport, an art form, a lifestyle, and a culture that also creates friendships between people from different (social and cultural) backgrounds.
Compton adds skateboarding involves many life skills in a fun, physically active setting, including commitment, responsibility, bravery, determination and confidence. The social aspect of learning together encourages social interaction and builds friendships.
The interest in the local skateboard scene leads Moffatt — long an advocate for a permanent skateboard park in North Bay — to believe a grassroots movement fuelled by youth will help achieve that goal.
"Skateboarding is now in the Olympics and kids are going to need a place to practice what they see on TV in a safe space. Not everyone can afford a board or lessons. Giving our time is the least we could do in support. Everyone deserves a chance to be who they want to be and we are here to help."