Published on February 5, 2024

Evergreen Brick Works: a place to skate

Skateboarding drop-in program is creating a sense of community, connecting generations and getting people active.

In 2023, Evergreen Brick Works opened its doors to its first ever Skateboarding Drop-In Program. The goal was to find a way to utilize the beautiful Koerner Gardens in the summer months while connecting the community. Thus, the Skateboarding Drop-In Program was born. Taking place one Tuesday a month throughout the summer and fall, this program brought hundreds of people together to share their passion for the sport.  

 

five young people sit on railing wearing helmets watching other young people skateboard

 

Since its inception, we’ve already seen so many benefits: 

  1. It creates a sense of community: Skateboarding brings people from all walks of life together, and we’ve heard from attendees that it’s been a great way for them to meet like-minded people and expand their social circle.  
  2. It connects generations: At almost every session, we’ve seen experienced skateboarders teaching younger kids how to master tricks.   
  3. It gets people active: This sport gets your heart pumping and it’s a great cardio workout. Skateboarding is not only good for physical health but also mental health, as it is a great way to take your mind off life’s stresses and struggles.  
  4. It gets people outside: The program takes place among the garden mounds in the picturesque Koerner Gardens under the exposed roof of the historic brick factory. Taking place from 7pm – 10pm, it’s the perfect after school or after work activity to connect to nature.  
  5. It’s accessible: The program is free and open to all skill levels.  

 

We chatted with Luke Simpson, the Evergreener who came up with the idea for the Skateboarding Drop-In Program, and here’s what he had to say.  

 

Could you tell us how the Skateboarding Drop-In Program came about? 

 

The program came about from my personal passion for skateboarding, which I have loved since I was a kid. I saw a great opportunity to bring a skateboard program to the Brick Works, as nothing like that existed here. I reimagined the space through the brain of a skateboarder and could see a future of new community members and a new culture brought here.  

 

Approximately how many people participated in the program last season and what was the age range? 

 

We received approximately 480 people through the course of eight months of running one program a month. We had a broad range of ages, as skateboarding at Evergreen Brick Works is for everyone. If I had to guess, I would say starting at 3 years old up to adults who are in their 40s. 

people skateboard on ramps outdoors surrounding by plants, trees and shrubs

 

Could you tell us about the uniqueness of this space? 

The Brick Works is an especially unique place to run a skateboarding program like this one, as it takes place in Koerner Gardens which has garden mounds all around and the entire site is filled with nature. It brings the connection of nature to skateboarding, which you don’t see very often. It gives youth a chance to step away and go for a walk through the quarry, as well as check out any other activations that may be happening on site that day. 

 

What is the importance of free programs like this one for the community?  

This program is important in so many ways. It is a free program with no past skills needed. We also have up to ten skateboards that anyone can borrow, whether that’s someone who’d like to try skateboarding for the first time or someone who doesn’t have a skateboard of their own. The program is great as it helps get people moving outdoors and involved in a community, which can be so supportive and uplifting. 

 

group of kids and adults getting ready to skateboard

 

How did the program connect generations? 

Skateboarding in general has always had that generational connection. Growing up, learning how to skateboard was the same for me, as I learned how to improve and get better from the older generation. Everyone feels connected and engaged with each other, and they can openly communicate problems or issues. You’re often learning life skills, which you can carry with you outside of skateboarding. 

 

What are some of the things that you heard from people who participated in the program?  

 

Participants thought it was a beautiful space. Many mentioned what a promising idea it was and how important it is to run a program like this one at Evergreen Brick Works, where nature and learning are abundant. 

 

Could you tell us more about Evergreen’s partnership with Impact Skate Club and Ramp 2 Rail? 

 

This program would not be possible without Neil Evans from Ramp to Rail. He outdoes himself every session, building amazing skate park installations, bringing something new to the table or changing it up with each program. Without his innovation in skate park building, this would not be possible. Yash Presswalla from Impact Skate Club is an incredibly important pillar in this program as well. Yash was the first one to reach out to me when I had the idea to start running a skateboard program at the Brick Works and helped me make the connections that we needed. He brings skateboards and pads to every drop-in session and is always there to help anyone who asks. He goes above and beyond, as this isn’t really a skateboarding lesson-based program. I am incredibly happy and excited to continue my work with these organizations and see how far and how much we will be able to accomplish together. Yash is currently running his winter skate camp at Evergreen Brick Works. 

 

What was your favourite thing about the program this past season? 

 

I think my favourite thing from this past season has just been seeing all the smiling faces and laughs this community has brought to each other through attending this program. I always love watching people develop their skills and finally land that one trick you have been watching them learn all season long. I can’t wait for another season.

 

The Skateboarding Drop-In Program will be back this spring. Stay tuned for details!