NGO shapes up blighted skateboard park

| 18/12/2013

(CNS): Once a private sector venture, the Black Pearl Skate Park in Grand Harbour is now in the hands of the Cayman Islands Skateboard Association, a non-profit organization, which will be hosting a major jam this Christmas to raise more funds. The largest park in the region and North America, it is now used by hundreds of local kids every week under the supervision of the association chair, Michael Myles, the education ministry’s at-risk youth coordinator. The park had been blighted by vandalism, bullying, drugs and bad behavior and there was a clear need to improve standards for the students of the skateboard club. Volunteers have now cleaned up the park, removed the graffiti, repaired the fencing and they now man the facility.

After being taken over by the new non-profit organization, a new vision was established and the missions is to "maintain a world class skate park in the Cayman Islands; to keep the park a healthy, safe environment, free of graffiti and litter while fostering self-confidence, good health, strength and pride with the youth of our islands.”

The association has also established a skateboard shop, which rents equipment and conducts daily memberships. Since taking over the park in July 2013, it has attracted over 500 participants, many of them young people who participate monthly. 

With two successful competitions in September and November, with over 30 competitors at each one, the park is following up with a Christmas Skate Jam. Professional skateboarder Chet Thomas is flying in to spend some one-on-one time with the local skateboarders, pass on some of his skills and experience, as well as be a guest judge for the competition. 

Myles explained that skateboarding provides an outlet for young people which keeps them out of trouble, off the streets and involved in fun, constructive activities. He said it was an avenue to reach potentially at-risk youngsters and get them on the right path.

Myles stated that the association has encouraged the employment of young aspiring skateboarders because it enables them to be mentors and coaches at the park. 

Jon-Mikol Rankin (18) is one of these young aspiring skateboarders who have been recruited to work at the park. He is a talented athlete who mentors youngsters and ensures they follow the right safety measures. Myles stated that young men like Rankin must be provided with the opportunity to showcase their skill and become positive role models. 

Rankin has also established a business selling skateboards at the shop, while aspiring to become a professional skateboarder and broaden his business talent with more retail products, such as clothing, bikes and scooters.

Myles said that these are the avenues that must be supported to help youngsters and he hoped other young people would follow Rankin's example. 

"My aim is to be the first professional skateboarder from the Cayman Islands," Rankin said, adding that he was also interested in helping younger skaters progress in the sport.

Myles said many generous donors and well-wishers have assisted in the development of the association and the park and he was hoping to be able to light the park at night to keep it in use longer and enhance the international standards of many youngsters and encourage competitions.

The association is hoping raise approximately $15,000 to buy the lights and additional  equipment for the park. With the visit by Chet Thomas this Christmas, Myles said he hoped the pro-skater from California will help support the new vision of the association and park.

Anyone who would like to help can contact the park at 947-4161 or or visit the webpage at  

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  1. Castor says:

    Well done and koodoos to the Skate Board Association, a tip of the hat. As I write this little post there are four previous posts, of the four two are negative, one wants the wave pool and only one is supportive. Amazing isn't it. Maybe on ly 25% of the population are positive, 25% have the give-mees, and 50% of them populationn haventheir eyes and sense of optimism connected to their spinctre muscle.

    • GTFOH says:

      What sanctimonious drivel. 4 comments do not make a Gallup poll.

      So you don’t see any issue with private property owners allowing their properties and buildings to fall into disrepair and blight the country?

      Tip of the hat to the skateboarders if they wish to rehabilitate the property but that should certainly not prevent the actual owners or original developers from getting a wag of the finger.

  2. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just bulldoze this white elephant.

  3. GTFOH says:

    A more relevant question is why don’t private property owners have to maintain their properties?

    Or is it a case of more laws overlooked by the applicable authorities.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please let us know when the fundraisers will be so that we can contribute.

  5. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring back the wave pool.