Young Skateboarders Roll Out Efforts to Upgrade O‘ahu’s Skate Parks
How two groups of young skateboarders took matters into their own hands.
BRANDON PAGARIGAN, BACK MIDDLE, AND HIS FRIENDS AT THE ‘EWA BEACH COMMUNITY PARK SKATE PARK.
PHOTOS: AARON K. YOSHINO
Brandon Pagarigan learned a valuable lesson when he and his Campbell High School friends spearheaded a project to refurbish the skate park at ‘Ewa Beach Community Park: Things don’t get done unless you do them.
The skate park was in bad shape—cracks in the ramps, the unsteady asphalt surface and loose pebbles and rocks made it nearly impossible to navigate without falling and injuring yourself.
The group made a pitch to the ‘Ewa Neighborhood Board more than two years ago asking for help and support, which led to a public-private partnership. The Association of Skateboarders in Hawai‘i, also known as ASH, installed two skating obstacles last year and the city finished removing the asphalt pavement and resurfacing it with cement in January.
Although the process was frustrating, Pagarigan, 18, and his friends got involved in every step: from going to meetings to learning how to read blueprints, use tools and construct the obstacles.
Skateboarders of all ages enjoy the newly refurbished skate park at ‘Ewa Beach Community Park.
The skate park reopened in February.
“You would think by the amount of support we got, it would’ve gotten done right away. But I stayed patient,” says Pagarigan, a Campbell High senior. “The fact that we worked with other people kind of gave you that sense that this is a skating community. We’re like a big family.”
Now he and his friends walk to the skate park almost every day after school and feel a sense of pride in helping to repair it.
The Campbell High students are part of a growing number of youth skateboarders in the Islands, fueled by the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, popular skateboarding video games and other mainstream media.
Sawyer Hanns Apela Caban, 8, does a frontside air at The ‘EWA beach community park skate park.
Chuck Mitsui, 44, founder of ASH, says the nonprofit’s membership has grown significantly in the past few years to more than 800. The growth—about 100 additional members per year—has largely been among youth.
“You’re all equal when you’re on a skateboard,” says Mitsui, who also owns 808 Skate, a skate shop in Kailua. “[Skateboarding is] growing probably more than I ever thought it would.”
That growth and interest has sparked a need for more and better quality public skate parks, he says. (The city manages 13 skate parks across O‘ahu.)
A group of Kailua Elementary and Kailua Intermediate kids are also driving efforts to advocate for upgrades at the Kailua District Park skate park. About 30 kids made their pitch at the Kailua Neighborhood Board’s February meeting. They hope to install a broader range of ramps and obstacles at the skate park suitable for skates of all ages and skill levels. Their plan is to dive right in and help with anything they can to get the project done.
KAILUA INTERMEDIATE STUDENTS SPEND ALMOST EVERY DAY AFTER SCHOOL AT THE KAILUA DISTRICT PARK SKATE PARK.
“It will be a more attractive park if it welcomes both pro skaters and beginner skaters,” says Lina Baez, a Kailua Intermediate eighth-grader. “We come here most of the time after school. It’s our skate park too, not only the city and county’s. We’re really trying to put ourselves in it because … it will affect us and help us.”