Mission rolls up for youth
For Nick Austin, youth work is much more than an occupation — it’s a way of life.
The 32-year-old spends much of his free time at Wonthella Skatepark, teaching disadvantaged kids how to skateboard.
Two months ago, Austin launched the grassroots initiative Skate Donate to expand his mission.
“A lot of kids who come here don’t have skateboards, but they all want to have a go,” he said.
“I want to bridge the gap between generations by getting the older skateboarders to donate their used equipment, and then the young kids can use it.”
Armed with a broom, a bucket, and a rack of boards, Austin teaches respect and park etiquette, as well as the fundamentals of skateboarding.
When he arrives at the park, he sets the youngsters to work.
“Before we get the boards out, we clean the park,” he said.
“I want everyone to look after it, then in a way, it’s kind of self-policed.
“Hopefully, by doing that we can mitigate any rock-throwing or littering problems.”
Hailing from Leicester, England, Austin grew up skating in less than ideal conditions.
“All we had back home was a five-foot wooden ramp, and a lot of the time it was raining so we’d have to brush the wet ramp to make it skateable,” he said.
“We didn’t have the facilities we have here, but we had the community, and sometimes it seems almost the other way round here.”
With that in mind, Austin said he hoped Skate Donate would set a good example for children who lacked positive role models at home.
Austin describes skating as “a great alternative to footy or basketball”.
“It’s really individually based. You set your own goals, challenges and limits,” he said.
Anyone keen to support Skate Donate can find Austin at the Wonthella Skatepark mostly on weekday afternoons.
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