SEATTLE — A community effort in one south Seattle neighborhood is coming to fruition in the form of a skatepark. The Rainier Beach neighborhood's push for access to skating aims to bring opportunities to local youth.
“Just the community, it's so supporting and I have a whole bunch of friends that do it and it's just really fun,” said 13-year-old Luella Ducksworth about why she loves skateboarding so much.
It is a community she's been a part of for a long time.
“Half of my life. I started when I was six,” said Ducksworth, who added she started practicing even more during the pandemic.
After virtual school in 2021, Ducksworth and her friends would go right to the skatepark, which is where she can still often be found. But, the closest skatepark to her is Jefferson Park in Beacon Hill, which is about a fifteen-minute drive or 45-minute bus ride from where she lives in Rainier Beach.
“My mom and dad usually drive me up here or I'll take like the bus or the train,” said Ducksworth.
That is why she is excited kids in her Rainier Beach neighborhood will soon have access to their own skatepark, in walking distance of multiple local schools. She says she does not feel many people in her neighborhood get exposure to the sport of skateboarding.
“I hope to see kids like me, like Black and brown kids skating,” said Ducksworth. “Also, little kids, to like get them just in the community and learning how to skate.”
Soon Luella can walk to her own neighborhood skatepark which will be near the Rainier Beach Community Center. It is a vision community organizer Danielle Jackson, with the CHAMPS Resource and Service Center, has been advocating for since 2018 when she saw kids skating in the streets of Rainier Beach.
“I said to myself, that can't be safe,” said Jackson. “We've got to find a place for kids to skate.”
In 2007, the City of Seattle released a Citywide Skatepark Plan that listed Rainier Beach as a potential location. Now, after sixteen years and a renewed community effort, the skatepark will soon be a reality.
“I think as a city, we have to get better with letting the community know what's available,” said Jackson.
There are multiple community partners helping to make this happen, including the Seattle Parks Foundation.
It is a vision that will soon allow for kids like Ducksworth to have a safe and accessible space to gather and skate in their own community.
“Maybe I'll find a new group and we can skate all the time together,” smiled Ducksworth.
Construction is set to start on the Rainier Beach Skatepark next year. The total cost of the project is around $2.5 million.