Alaska village getting skateboarding park this summer

BETHEL, Alaska — Construction of a skateboarding park is planned this summer in Kwethluk, which will be the only village in the vast Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to have one.

Materials are being gathered at a Seattle barge company, reported. The shipment is expected to arrive in July to the Yup’ik Eskimo village of about 780.

The nearby hub town of Bethel has a skate park, but smaller surrounding villages in the region do not.

The funding for the skate park in Kwethluk 12 miles to the east comes from a grant provided by Indian Health Services for a diabetes prevention program run by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp.

The village, in cooperation with the corporation, hired a company called Native Skateparks for the construction, which is expected to take about 20 days.

Greg Mize, owner of Native Skateparks, said he shares his experiences with parents, who are sometimes concerned about injuries to their children. It changes when they drive by a skate park and see as many as 50 children there.

“And I’d be standing there and grown men who came up to me and were kind of angry, come up to me later and say, ‘You know what, buddy, I apologize, this is the greatest thing that happened to our kids,”’ Mize said.

Kwethluk was the only village that was interested when YKHC environmental health officials pitched the idea around the region. Officials said one reason Kwethluk is a good choice is its close proximity to other villages, including Akiachak and Akiak.

Kwethluk city clerk Ana Galila said a staff member at the health corporation with extensive skating experience will give lessons. Galila said skateboards and safety helmets also will be handed out.

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