INNISFAIL – This summer has been gnar, gnar time at the Innisfail Skatepark.
That, according to one online skateboarder’s dictionary, means double cool.
And now the Town of Innisfail has hired a double cool teen to be the skatepark’s attendant for the summer. He is 19-year-old Jayce Downs, a local passionate skateboard enthusiast and a recent graduate of the town’s Skateboard Ambassador Workshop.
Despite his still young age, Downs has long been a skateboarding fixture in town, who took his riding skills to the old Main Street skatepark long before the new one was built and officially opened in late 2020.
“He’s gone from the old skatepark that we had, and it was what it was and had some features to it, but it wasn’t exactly an attraction and the new one is,” said Kane Williams, the town’s recreation program coordinator. “He is someone who really knows what this new skatepark means, and I am sure he was one of the first people that was on the skatepark when it was opened.
“He was part of the process for trying to figure out what the skatepark is, and he’s there all the time,” added Williams. “He will go down there and have a like a seven or eight-hour day down there, and then he will tell me he went back later on in the evening.”
Williams said Downs, a high school graduate from 2020, was hired for the summer, starting in June and finishing in September. His job is to offer assistance to skatepark users but he also provides training to those looking to increase their skills in the sport.
He said free skateboarding drop-in lessons are being offered to anyone who wants to learn how to ride. The lessons are held every Friday in August from 10 a.m. to noon at the skatepark. All ages are welcome, but skaters 10 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and must bring their own board.
While Downs is certainly qualified and able to do a great job at the lessons, he's also there because he's a part of the skateboarding community and knows its unique culture. He also there to “encourage good behaviours” and to make the skatepark a “better place”, said Williams.
“He’s there to give some perspective a little bit and keep an eye on things,” said Williams. “If there is someone who needs a little bit of help, he’ll step in and give some pointers and say, ‘hey, these are the things you need to be aware of.'
“And at the same token, talking to some of the people who are a little bit better and maybe not respecting the others who are there and let them know that and say, ‘hey, we got to make sure everybody is getting their chance here,” he added.
Williams said if there is an emergency situation, such as a skateboarding accident that happens at the skatepark, the town has a full back-up plan to fully support its young new attendant.
“We always make sure he has back-up. In this case, it’s always our peace officers and they are available for him to call anytime he would need them,” he said. “He is there because he is part of the skatepark and we want him to encourage good behaviours as much as you can, but sometimes we are in situation where things are beyond our control.”