Tackling violence through skateboarding and more
Musician Davian James has spent the past three weeks imparting his knowledge on a group of young boys, ages nine to 15, who turn up at Freedom Skatepark, a facility located close to Cable Hut beach in Bull Bay, St Andrew.
In times gone by, the playing field was the exclusive domain of the Bull Bay Football Club, which named it Bull Pen. These days, however, the sounds on skateboards rolling in the rink, located on the outskirts of the football field, coupled with sounds of musical instruments as well as shouts from the excited are responsible for the raging in the park.
Part of the Freedom Skatepark project, the park in Bull Bay, was inspired by the untimely death of Andre 'Wildfiyah' Thompson, a 20-year-old youth who was killed in 2009 following an altercation with an associate.
Thompson's mother, Lorraine Jones, who sits on the park's planning committee board, told THE STAR that she is elated to see the progress of the project and the impact it has had on youths.
According to Jones, her son, who went to St Jago High School, had a passion for skating and helping children, but was unable to execute all his endeavours due to limited funding.
"My son was so under-resourced, he was 20 years old at the time, he never had any links or contact at the time, but it just says to me that no matter how weak you think you are, if you are doing something that you think is right and for good, other people will come and help. It has really been inspirational and humbling," she said.
Andre had expressed a desire for a skatepark to be available to the youth in Jamaica. His mother knew he loved skating but had no idea that the passion within was so strong.
"l knew he used to go to Bull Bay and meet up with these guys who were skateboarders, but in my mind skateboarding was something for idle people. He was like trying to get people to donate skateboards and all those things. I never really paid it much attention. But after he passed, I was looking at information on skateboarding in Jamaica, just being idle. I encountered a story about this guy in England who was coming to Jamaica and he wanted to build a skatepark, and the reason he wanted to do this was because he saw a video where Andre was asking for support for skateboarding in Jamaica. I tried to get in touch with him, found him and from there it started," Jones said.
The Englishman of whom she speaks is William Wilson, founder of Flipping Youths Foundation. Not only has Freedom Skatepark afforded youngsters the opportunity to learn to skate but it has been equipping them with life skills. James, for example, has been teaching the children music, and from his account, the experience has been good.
"The children are quick learners. With music and words come great responsibility. Even though I am teaching music, I also come with a moral teachings and I use certain moments to teach the boys how to resolve conflicts, which I think is the biggest impact on these boys so far," James said.
The musician said he is convinced that music can go a far way in helping the youngsters to build strong character.
"If I may speak from experience, I used to attend a primary school in the Kingston 13 area and violence rocked that area. The principal at that time used music to overhaul the behaviour in school. l saw where gunmen became better citizens because they came and saw their children performing music and what it was doing for them. They wanted to be good examples also and so some of them changed," James added.