- RED BULL -
By Dani Howe
Photos by Ayden Stoefen
Whether you’re simply curious, an amateur or an experienced skater, Freedom Skatepark offers a safe space to experience the world of skate in Kingston for the first time.
In the 90s as skateboarding grew in popularity around the world with the X Games and other extreme sporting events coming into mainstream media it set in motion a movement that would lead to Freedom Skatepark being open twenty years later. A small but growing community of skateboarders emerged with a passion and love for the sport that was undeniable. This small group has been very underground, and the Bull Bay skate crew 'Sk876' have used their creativity to transform an abandoned gully into a DIY style skate plaza with self-built concrete ramps, ledges and abandoned street furniture. The gully offered a refuge which was missing for the boarders who had no other place to call home.
“We were all inspired by the passion, creativity and resilience demonstrated by the Jamaican skaters and wanted to join forces to help bring their dream to life. Local organisation 'Sk876' deserves a lot of credit for developing skateboarding in Jamaica to this point, by teaching younger kids how to skate, giving away skateboards and hosting competitions”- Flipping Youth.
Flipping Youth travelled to Jamaica in 2016 to learn about the skateboard community, establish the needs within the community and begin the journey to try and establish a professional skatepark on the island. This trip was inspired by the heartbreaking story of Andre Thompson, aka. 'Wildfiyah', a Kingston skater who was sadly killed in 2009 whilst trying to make steps towards getting Jamaica it's first skatepark. Flipping Youth then teamed up with Kevin Bourke from Tmrw.Tday Culture Festival, the Concrete Jungle Foundation, Seprod Foundation, Sandals Foundation and Bull Bay Football Club to make the Freedom Skatepark a reality.
Their collaboration would create the magical park which now has its home in Bull Bay St. Andrew a mere 20 minute drive from the heart of Kingston. The skatepark has been designed in such a way that it gathers all the basics of a skatepark: you’ll find a manual pad, a Californian bean bowl, a mini ramp, rails, ledges, etc. They’ve also added some fun elements such as a skateable turtle, and a rainbow rail. The idea was to create a flow that merges the classics of skateparks with some more unique elements that provide different types of feeling when skating. It is also designed for beginners to learn, as well as to challenge more advanced skaters.
More than a place to have fun, the skatepark is hosting Edu-Skate classes, Concrete Jungle Foundation's CJF’s educational program that uses skateboarding to stimulate internally motivated self-improvement and psychological well-being for disadvantaged youth, employs local skaters to develop vocational skills and facilitates the organization of community based activities like workshops, events and contest. Skateboarding is a great physical exercise and a great platform for satisfying your psychological needs and an accessible activity for socialization.