Youth take the lead on skate park initiative

Members of the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council speak to the membership on Wednesday, Nov. 28, advocating for the skatepark initiative.
Ignacio youth took their skills to the ramps in Gallup, N.M. as part of a field trip designed to experience how other communities are implementing public skate park designs (left to right) Angelo Valdez, Dewayne Hendren, Ryan Naranjo, and Quentin Baker.
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Virgil Morgan | SunUte

Members of the Southern Ute community gathered for the second informational forum regarding the proposed skatepark, an initiative led by the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council, under the guidance of SunUte’s Recreation department, Wednesday, Nov. 28. “Newton gave the youth an opportunity to choose what was important to them, we are here to guide them if they need guidance. To support their vision,”emphasized Virgil Morgan, SunUte Recreation Manager, referring to the late Chairman Jimmy Newton Jr. “We are believing in the youth, the way our elders supported us.”

Southern Ute Executive Officer, McKean Walton addressed concerns brought forward by the elders in the previous meeting, held on Nov. 7. Security and location of the park were at the top of the list, along with liability to the Tribe. Viable solutions to these concerns included: lighting, crosswalks, security cameras, and posted guidelines. Enhanced security patrols of the area by local law enforcement and SUPD, were also stressed.

“Youth Council is taking the lead,” SunUte Community Center Director, Robin Duffy-Wirth said. They are the ones doing the research. The youth are researching the size and cost of the project, from design all the way up to implementation explained Morgan. “We want a great skate park that can last for years,” he said.

The youth council envisions a public space that will appeal to all ages, and bring families and community together in an outside venue. It is important to note that only a portion of the money set aside for the youth initiative would go toward building the skate park itself, followed by the implantation of two more additional phases to the overall project in the future, explained Duffy-Wirth. Phase 2 hopes to create a family friendly space adjacent to the skate venue, with its centerpiece being a splash pad for younger kids, and shaded picnic areas for adults and youth alike. The splash pad is a concept that works as a water fountain, but is designed to be interactive, providing a cool alternative to the traditional playground model during the hot summer months.

Phase 3 could possibly be an indoor facility, catering to multi-sport programs…anything from batting cages to golf, Morgan explained. All based on the needs of the community and the youth.

“The kids have great support, we are listening to the youth,” Morgan said, adding that, “this is what they want, to be heard. The park provides the venue for therapy and self-motivation. How do we not know that the next great skate boarder is from our community?”



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