Why a Skatepark?
Skateparks provide many socio and economic benefits to a community, especially in rural settings where youth have few options. A gathering place for local youth, skateparks build and sustain healthy communities. Skateboarding is a physical activity that also provides lots of health benefits such as lower obesity rates and improved academic performance. Eastern Madera County kids, teens and youth deserve a safe, fun place to ride and hang out. Click below to DONATE NOW and help us make this a reality.
Benefits of Skateparks
1) Skateparks reduce illicit behavior. – while there can be an occasional “bad seed”, providing designated spaces for positive activities is the best way to curb unwanted behavior.
2) Skateparks provide a safe environment for skateboarding. – skateboarding is going to happen while skateparks exist or not. The most common injuries in skateboarding occurs outside of skateparks. Due to surface irregularities and collisions with cars. The best way to keep them safe is to provide them a space.
3) Skateparks reduce damage to private property. – if your town doesn’t have a skatepark, then it is a skatepark. Public skateparks are a win-win because skateboarders have a place to pursue their passion. Law Enforcement and business owners no longer have to spend their time, money and energy “shooing away” skateboarders.
4) Skateboarding has significant physical health benefits. – arguably the most important reason in participating in action sports is that it keeps you healthy and physically fit. Finding an activity that gets kids off the couch and keeps them in shape is vital for the youth of this nation, especially in this time of a national health crisis.
5) Skateboarding has significant mental health benefits. – skateboarding is unique activity because it combines extreme physical exertion with precise muscle coordination and balance. The complexity of performing tricks improves brain function at a fundamental level and stimulates new cell growth.
6) Skateparks have positive economic impact. Skateboarders and their families are a tourism source all on their own. Bringing about economic stimulation for the city. The tourists dine and book rooms. Local events and school programs also contribute to a stable economic growth for local business’s.
Why Jacob's Skate Park?
On a crisp, clear January day in 2013, the Mountain Area forever lost a young, unassuming and unconventional aspiring entrepreneur while riding a skateboard with his friends to go hang out at his former elementary school for a leisurely Saturday morning. Towering well over six feet at barely seventeen and riding his new skateboard, he was making his way to the most familiar stomping grounds near home where he and his friends could enjoy skating and biking together in a comparatively safe environment to our rural roads––with surfaces far more ideal to young skaters living in an area that, by default, is not friendly to those on wheels smaller than your average recreational sports vehicle. This activity is not exactly encouraged by schools in general, as we know, but it was the best option available. Their intentions were simply to enjoy the day. And so they went, looking to spend a relaxing time playing around on their transport of choice, cracking jokes and planning the rest of their weekend. But with a cruel twist of fate, the aspiring entrepreneur was lost to us nearly the instant he began to cross one of our larger back roads.
That day is when I lost my son, Jacob Schumaker, the middle child of three gregarious boys born and raised in Coarsegold. Jacob was the rebellious one, who had serious burgeoning interests in music, record collecting and current events, as well as in the idea of providing a modern recreational zone for kids and young adults to enjoy here in the Mountain Area. A place to safely meet and have fun without taking the extra risk of sharing the notoriously dangerous roads with various cars, buses and trucks.
Yet he himself was unable to avoid the very thing he wanted to protect his peers from, and tragically never had the chance to realize his goal. A project close to his heart that he had already started doing the groundwork on, the planning and strategizing for, suddenly stopped when he did. He would not have wanted these plans to stop, no matter his fate.
It’s not just a mother’s biased opinion for me to say that Jacob was an amazing, kind-hearted, generous, caring and loving boy. He was absolutely all those things. He was constantly surprising me with his insight and wisdom that seemed well beyond his years. There’s no denying he was also very much a teenager, going through what all teenagers do: the uncertainty, confusion, and confidence in turns, at times butting heads with us adults while simultaneously dreaming of adulthood’s freedom with the unmistakable zeal of youth we all recognize. He stood out amongst the crowd, was hard to miss. He surprised those who got to know him. He was truly conscientious and caring by nature. He was constantly making people laugh with his wit, sense of humor and spirit, all with a smile that would light up every room he entered. He was always there for everyone with a hug and thoughtful advice when they needed him. Along the way he inspired a lot of people including myself to be authentic, to stand up for our beliefs, stay strong, do what we love, always find a reason to laugh, and help those in need. He felt we should listen to music every day, that we should love and support one another, live life to the fullest, not allow the little things in life get us down, to give unconditional love, and keep a gentle heart. Essentially everything one could hope for their children to actually care about. He was truly driven to finding ways to make the world a better place for us all. He made no attempt to hide the fact that he loved his family and friends, and we will always love him with the deepest, purest love there is.
His friends still speak of how warm and sweet he was to them. How he made sure everybody was involved in whatever was happening and didn’t feel left out, always inviting them to join him in his adventures. How he made a point to involve them as part of the conversation and be heard. He was adored by so many, and for good reason.
He was also creative. He played guitar, wrote songs and poetry… but his priority? That was reserved for skateboarding. He was absolutely passionate about it. It was fun, good exercise and release. I think it was the freedom he felt when he was engaged with it that he enjoyed most of all. But, being in our rural community, there simply weren’t many places he could go to practice with friends without being in real harm’s way at some point. This bothered him.
Then one day, he sat down next to me and informed me that we needed a skate park in Oakhurst. It was a great solution for kids to get exercise, socialize and have a good time locally, he said. He wanted to create a safe place for them to skate and have the option to get off the street, out of parking lots and off school grounds, where they would inevitably be in someone else’s way. He wanted to someday expand on the initial plans in order to have basketball and tennis courts added, particularly because those sports were important to his brothers and he wanted the space to be inclusive. He even suggested a walking path for my friends and I for our own exercise, since he knew that’s what I enjoyed doing. He had more ideas. He thought about everybody!
And he spoke non-stop about this, about how it would help future generations enjoy a better variety of recreational options, centrally, when our previous outlets have been limited. I remember very well when the bowling alley shut down and our movie theater initially closed, he was so sad about it and would lament that there’s nothing for kids to do up here. He was right, there really wasn’t much for them to do outside their homes and school-sponsored events. And that hurtle was the spark which motivated him to pursue his dream with real energy. A skate park––that was the ticket!
He was already in the process of fundraising and rallying support towards his dream of building a skate park in Oakhurst when we lost him. He had sat for hours and hours in front of Raley’s and Von’s playing his guitar to raise that money. He fundraised over four hundred dollars at the time (thank you everyone who donated!) which he was very proud of. He was also in the process of organizing a music festival in Oakhurst Park in order to continue to build momentum, having lined up seven bands and professionals at that point, and had been granted approval for use of the location. It felt like things were really starting to develop. In addition, he planned on building skateboards to sell in order to raise even more money. I can’t emphasize enough how dedicated he was to do this for our community! I am in awe of how he had the confidence to go after his vision, fearless of any odds and obstacles that could get in his way. It only seems right to pursue this idea.
This proposal to create a skate park in Jacob’s honor, of realizing his dream, would not only mean so much to his family and friends, but it would greatly benefit our community, from those who wish to provide healthier choices for our youngest and most vulnerable members to the kids themselves (and let’s face it, to those who have concerns about property damage as well). The people who knew Jacob and knew of his passion for skateboarding would understand how profound the completion of this project would be, of the pride and accomplishment he would have felt but was not able to experience. Not unimportantly, we feel that by providing this space, we could very likely avoid the similar incidents happening to other children, that at the very least it could cut the chances of it significantly. Kids need outdoor public space of their own, they need far more fresh air than they’ve been getting in today’s world, and we can provide it for them if we work together. We hope very much that the community will also see the good this project can bring, and the tragedies it could potentially prevent.
It is hard to try to condense our feelings into one public message. We miss Jacob every single day, and honestly if in completing his dream we save even one child’s life, if it would keep even one other family from experiencing such a tragedy that results in this lifelong anguish, we feel that it would make this project more than worthwhile. Knowing that this would continue to help protect children for years to come would honor his memory beautifully and express the hope for our community’s future in such a meaningful way that we think genuine comfort would be experienced in that knowledge.
Your support in this endeavor would be touching more lives than you might realize. Thank you for reading, and we sincerely hope to be able to add your name to our project’s supporters.
Sincerely, Lori Schumaker