Free Pasadena Kids Lessons Break Down Skateboarding Barriers
It’s a foggy summer Sunday morning in western Newfoundland and young snowboarders are lining up for the roll call.
Pasadena Skate Park is hosting this year Skate 101, a series of free skate lessons for beginners.
Brian Randell, known to his students as BJ, is the skateboard instructor behind the program. He has been skateboarding for 25 years and Sunday was the second time he offered lessons in his hometown.
“I want the kids to have someone in the skate park that they can relate to, especially an older person,” he said.
Randell came up with the idea after seeing other snowboarders offering similar lessons for kids in Cochrane, Alta.
“I thought I could offer something to the kids and give back to the community that brought me here,” he said.
Skate 101 students learn the basics: how to stand on their boards, how to push, and some basic maneuvers. Randell teaches kids how their boards work and how to set them up correctly for riding.
Nine-year-old Elijah Pain attended Skate 101 for the first time this year.
“I had a skateboard last year. I skated down my street a bit, but it’s more fun,” he said.
Elijah’s father, John Payne of Corner Brook, took him to neighboring Pasadena for some instruction and advice.
“My son has shown an interest in skateboarding and I don’t know much about it, so having something for free that a kid can try out is pretty amazing,” Payne said.
“Good technique for any sport, any activity is important, so having someone point them in the right direction is the way to start off well.”
An intimidating place
The skatepark can be an intimidating place for a beginner, according to Randell. He remembers his beginnings as an aspiring skater entering the park for the first time.
“I would be out on the field playing baseball, watching the kids in the skatepark,” he said.
“Finally, I ended up having the courage to go to the park and try it … When I got there it was crazy.”
The atmosphere in the skatepark was unpleasant for newcomers, Randell said, but he was coming back anyway.
“It wasn’t a welcoming place, but I had this desire to learn to skate,” he said.
Now 35, father of two, he hopes to transform the skate park into a more inclusive space.
“With the community now, I don’t want it to be that way. I want you to feel accepted as soon as you come here.”
Randell can teach the lessons for free, but he said seeing the effects of his advice on young skateboarders is his own reward.
“I run into them driving down the road, flying on a skateboard. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I did that, I gave that to them,'” he said.
Some students have returned for other classes after attending last year’s session. Randell said his returning students behave differently from when they entered the park.
“You could see the confidence in them right away.”
Angie Thornhill is a mother of three from Corner Brook. She brought her eldest, eight-year-old Ross, to Pasadena for class.
“I think it’s great. He has a really good way with kids,” she said. “He’s doing a great thing for the community.”
According to Randell, learning to skateboard brings lessons that are transferable to other areas of life.
“When you try a trick a thousand times and do it just once, there’s a special feeling to it,” Randell said.
“If you can apply this in everything you do, you will be successful at some point.”