Antique Skate Shop at 9 Florence Street in Centretown is more than a place that sells skateboards and clothing. This shop, which has been open for about a year and a half, is very much a hangout for skaters and non-skaters alike. In addition to holding events, Antique Skate Shop is bringing skateboarding to at risk youth and creating safer spaces for participating in the sport.
I recently had a chance to sit down with the store’s smart and community minded owner Aaron Cayer, who is really passionate about skate boarding. Rather than take his MA in economics to go work for an institution, he has been applying his knowledge and skills to a sport he has been doing for 15 years.
“Skateboarding is more accessible than team sports like hockey,” explained Aaron, “It’s free to do and the facilities are free.” There are no joining fees, for example. This is one of the reasons why he is working with the City of Ottawa to build a skate park at McNabb Park at Gladstone and Bronson streets targeted for construction in Spring/Summer 2014. The City of Ottawa gave 13,000 sq. feet, but did not have the budget to fund the full land allocation. Now Antique Skate Shop and the Ottawa Skateboard Community Association are seized with trying to raise funds to complete the project.
“This is a one time opportunity to make sure the park is as big as possible, explained Aaron. “Also, the more money we can get the more interesting features we can incorporate.” He added that being able to integrate other features like seating and shelter would allow more people to enjoy the facility.
The fundraising goal is $200,000, with every $40 donation giving one square foot to the park. “Every dollar we get can help make the park bigger and better,” added Aaron.
Aaron recently spoke at a Creative Morning’s Ottawa talk and gave compelling reasons why allowing spaces for ‘play’ is so important to child and social development. Studies have shown that the decline in play in the last fifty years in developed nations has contributed to a rise in mental illness as well as psychopathy, and that play is fundamental to human development.
“Skateboarding can do a lot of good,” explained Aaron. Through it’s For Pivot’s Sake initiative, Antique Skate Shop takes old skateboards and refurbishes them to give to at risk youth in Ottawa South. Aaron explained that kids in these communities are at a disadvantage during the summer because they don’t have access to the programs and activities that wealthier youth have. “What we are trying to do is provide more access for something to do in the summer time for these kids, because that will really put them on a more even playing field in terms of pursing a better life path.”
Since its involvement, the store realized it could make a difference and has recently aligned with the Rotary Club of Ottawa South to do more programming. “The point isn’t to save everyone, explained Aaron. “If we can get one or two kids interested in skateboarding and get them away from other activities, it is a good thing.”
Want to help Antique Skate Shop building an amazing skate park at McNabb Park, hopefully one that all can enjoy? Donate to One Square Foot here.
You can also attend fundraisers for One Square Foot, including the Social Book Exchange tonight at Oz Kafé , as well as the Support Local Wrap-Up Party on November 30, where proceeds will go to this initiative.
To keep up with what Antique Skate Shop is doing, ‘like’ their Facebook page.