October 25th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. ###
A focus on “unstructured fun”
Skateboarding society starting up to focus on community and inclusion
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
The newly formed Southwest Alberta Skateboard Society held their first public event at the Lundbreck skate park on October 21, raising $718.“We wanted to bring people together and share food. It was a meet-and-greet with people to show them what we’re about,” says Jon Fearns, chairperson of the society.
Pass Herald Reporter
A flat-brimmed hat, long hair, DC sneakers, baggy jeans and a rebellious attitude – it’s the typical stereotype of someone who skateboards. Key word: stereotype.

Skateboarding is a technical, rather physical sport that anyone from 6 to 60 can enjoy. Kids, parents, electricians, anyone…

Like Jonathan Fearns, a young man in his early 30s who works as a Forest Officer with Alberta Environment and Parks, loves to go hiking, fishing and skateboarding in his spare time. Fearns has been passionate about the art and culture of skateboarding ever since he attempted his first Ollie in his youth – a popular jumping trick on a skateboard - which, by the way, took him eight months to achieve.

“I just kept with it through my time in university until now. I’m 31 and I’m till skateboarding,” says Fearns. “I was a hockey player, but the structure of hockey was really wearing on me. I was a creative kid. I needed to do something. Skateboarding fulfilled that role. Over time, it occupied a space for me that I needed that was not being met by those other sports. I gravitated towards it. It was creative, it was extremely challenging and it was really rewarding.”
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It’s this passion for skateboarding that inspired Fearns to start the Southwest Alberta Skateboard Society (SWASS) that aspires to foster a positive skateboard culture in the region.

With their inaugural barbecue last weekend, SWASS is just getting started, having incorporated several months ago and having held several meetings since. They currently have six board members from all walks of life, but who all share the same excitement about skateboarding.

SWASS aims to build a community not just for skateboarding, but for any action-wheeled sports like scootering and rollerblading. They aim to collaborate with municipalities in Southwest Alberta to work together to maintain and develop skate park facilities.

But beyond that, skateboarding goes much further than the physical technique of performing stunts on a board - it’s a place where people can build relationships, be part of a community and feel a connection with others working towards a common goal.

“We want to keep these positive spaces for kids and people to go to for unstructured fun,” says Fearns, the chairperson of the new society. “We want to encourage that sense of community in youth that develops and encourages self-awareness and self-confidence. That’s a huge part of skateboarding.”

It’s this aspect of unstructured fun that motivated Jeffree Pisony to join the SWASS Board as director of fundraising.
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“I used to play hockey and sports and the challenge that I found with skateboarding is what really brought me into it. I have to face the wood by yourself. You watch videos of people doing tricks and you see the struggle and reward of trying something over and over again. You can’t really beat it,” he says.

Southwestern Alberta has a unique feature in that it has one of three indoor skate parks in all of Alberta, right in Blairmore’s Albert Stella Memorial Arena (ASMA), which will actually celebrate its 20th birthday next year. Pincher Creek and Lundbreck also have skateboard facilities, both outdoor, which means that they are accessible only seasonally.

“We are so lucky to have this unique opportunity with a municipally-supported indoor skate park,” says Fearns.

SWASS is just getting started, having incorporated several months ago and has held several meetings since. They are brimming with ideas for initiatives on how to be active in the community and how to create a platform for others with the same interests.
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The society wants to host skate jams and is working on an initiative for Friday evenings where kids can skateboard or engage in other action-wheeled sports at Albert Stella.

“It’s to allow the kids, when they get out of school at 1:00 on Friday, to have something positive to do right after school,” says Fearns.

Beyond the physical act of skateboarding, they want to offer fun and educational activities like displaying popup art shows, or showing skateboard videography and documentaries - all with the purpose of bringing the public into the understanding of the culture of skateboarding.

“We’re going to be hosting little barbecues and just getting our name out there, letting the town know who we are and what we want to do,” says Pisony.

The Southwest Alberta Skateboard Society has many events, activities and fundraisers coming up as they grow and build their group. Keep in touch on the Southwest Alberta Skateboard Society Facebook page.
October 25th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. ###
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