The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal (PGST) youth leadership group, SWAG (S’Klallams Working And Giving), located in Port Gamble, Washington are trying to realize a neighborhood skatepark in their Tribal community.
This group of Native youth, ages 11 to 18, have been working on improving the tribal community by “increasing recreational activities for young people and families, increasing the opportunities to learn about tribal culture, and to improve the health of the reservation environment,” as their website articulates.
It’s a good cause, and your vote can make the difference. So if you’ve got a second, please click here and support their efforts!
Here is Kelly Sullivan-Baze, deputy director of Tribal Services for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, explaining exactly what this great effort is all about:
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is located in on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State. The tribal reservation stretches approximately 4 miles square. There are 650 residents in the Tribal community of which 225 are under the age 18 years old. Families of the reservation have very close ties and are supportive of developing a healthier place for the children to grow. This is a small community where low-level commercial and subsistence fishing continues to be the primary economic mode of production as it has been for thousands of years. The culture of harvesting from the sea is central to the identity of the community.
Not unlike any other small and isolated town or village, the Port Gamble S’Klallam youth suffer from lack of opportunities for recreation and entertainment. The young people are fortunate to have a youth center where they can enjoy indoor activities and programming however very limited outdoor facilities exist. The reservation consists of nine smaller neighborhoods and yet only has four small park areas for young people to play. Those areas however are only suitable for smaller children
Increasingly more tribal youth are becoming involved in extra-curricular activities and are trying out for school sports teams. There is increased awareness among youth for healthy lifestyles that are physically active and free from alcohol and drugs. With a high rate of drug abuse and alcoholism in the community tribal youth face pressures to make poor decisions more often then their peers in other communities may face.
There are a growing number of kids who ride, but have no place to go. Most parents cannot take them to places off the reservation, and they have no safe places to ride on the reservation. This is a setting where the development of a community skate-park/plaza would have such a huge positive impact in this this community.
The S’Klallams Working And Giving group is dedicated to looking for ways to make the community a better place for them, and their family members to grow. They have an idea to restore an area in the community that once was a park for young children. This space already includes the only outdoor basketball court in the entire community, which draws young people of all ages. Given that the Tribe is currently not using the land it provides an ideal setting for them to develop.
SWAG views this area as an ideal location to plan and build a community skate park. Skateboarding, in-line skating, and BMX bike riding are all becoming more popular among youth in the community and there is not currently a safe place for them to learn and practice those sports. By being nominated for the “Be the change” award, the SWAG participants will be given a sense of accomplishment and will give them a chance to realize their goals for the community. Changing this dilapidated piece of tribal land into a place they can enjoy will bring them pride. By seeing this success they can realize that they can achieve what they set out to do
There is a clear and obvious need for a skatepark here and I think there is a rare opportunity here on the reservation to provide the youth culture here with a landscape to support and promote physical creative expression. This is a project that could contribute so much to building community, spirit and healthy life style choices in a place where kids truly do not have a place to truly grow and benefit from the skateboarding experience. Here on the reservation there are active youth programs that would participate in all facets of the development of this project, a tribal council that has made youth opportunities a major priority, and a pro-active tribal planning department that has already expressed their receptivity to such a project, and completely sees the need for it.
There are many pieces here in place that can contribute to making this valuable project come to fruition, with the right amount of support. Therefore, we are contacting the Sheckler Foundation today in order to see if there might be interest in working with the Tribe in order to help them realize this amazing opportunity.
Deputy Director of Tribal Services