Jace Sams with skateboards photo

KHS senior Jace Sams holds up two of the skateboards donated to the Teen Center by Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment.

KAMIAH — The Upriver Youth Leadership Council (UYLC) recently received a $5,000 skatepark project grant through the Tony Hawk Foundation, according to Sharlene Johnson, UYLC’s executive director. UYLC is a nonprofit whose vision is “empowering our youth to create a healthy, drug free community”.

Kamiah High School Senior Jace Sams is a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) member of the UYLC. He chose working towards the creation of a skatepark for his senior project. Johnson, an experienced grant writer, mentored Sams through the grant process with Sams doing research, measurements, concepts and other aspects to support the grant application.

Sams said that, although the first attempt at getting a Tony Hawk Foundation grant was not successful, “it is awesome that it worked out this time.” Finding more sponsors and polishing up the grant request were the keys to success the second time, according to Sams. He learned a lot about the grant writing process, saying, “It’s a long process. You have to make sure everything is pretty much perfect.”

Freedom Northwest Credit Union, Its Ye Ye Casino and the nonprofit Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment have all donated or pledged funds towards the construction of the skatepark, Johnson said. Based on costs for nearby skateparks in Lapwai and Orofino, she anticipates the construction will costs $200,000 or more.

The next step, according to Sams, is working with Grindline, a Seattle-based company that specializes in the planning, design and construction of cast in place concrete skateparks. Sharlene said Jace Johnson, another YAB member, is providing photos and drone footage of the site to Micah Shapiro of Grindline to help familiarize him with the site. She said that a survey is needed to develop the design.

Sharlene hopes the planning and design work will be completed this summer, with the idea of a phased development of the park with each phase. Although Sams will conclude his senior project before he graduates in May, he plans to stay involved in the development of the skatepark.

According to Sharlene, the City of Kamiah agreed to be a partner in developing a skatepark at the city’s Dupont Park after Sams made a presentation at a city council meeting. Once the skatepark is built, the YAB teenagers have agreed to keep the site clean. Kamiah Mayor Betty Heater applauds the efforts of Sams and the UYLC to move forward to develop a skateboard park in Kamiah.

“Providing activities for our young people offers them alternatives to make healthy choices. Kids engaged in outdoor physical activities are not involved in drugs, alcohol, or other mischievous behavior” said Heater.

She continued, “The kids of this community have dreamed of having a skatepark for over 15 years. As a parent, I know firsthand how important it is for kids to have outdoor recreational opportunities, the things they love and really want to do.” Heater concluded, “The Jace Sams Skatepark grant is just one example of the teen center lifting our community up and making it a nicer place for us to live.”