Here at Legacy Knitting we are passionate about 2 things: incredible knitwear, and incredible people. Matt Glick and the crew at Gift Skateboarding definitely fall into the category of incredible incredible people doing amazing things.
In the town of Henderson, Kentucky, Gift Skateboarding is creating a free indoor skatepark with the mission of providing safe and accessible spaces and programs centered around skateboarding.
We were fortunate enough to be a sponsor to this awesome new skatepark, and had some time to chat with Gift's founder, Matt, who told us the genesis story of Gift Skateboarding.
I started skating in 1988, after seeing my friend’s older brother doing it. We had a few backyard ramps to rely on for a year or two, but they quickly deteriorated in the Midwest weather. My friends and I spent the next few years getting chased out of every empty parking lot we could find. I eventually lost a lot of my enthusiasm for skating, due to having so few places to do it. Through my teen and early adult years, I skated less and less, but always thought it would be a dream come true to figure out a way to finance an indoor skatepark.
In my mid 30’s, I realized that I may not have that much longer to physically be able to skate, so I started to pick it back up. I was also able to bring my son along with me to skateparks in the area, and found that it gave us a reason to do a bit of traveling together. More skating, and having helped to start a few small businesses, only intensified the desire to find a way to make an indoor skatepark happen. I figured a skateshop would be the most obvious path to funding it.
In May of 2020, I opened a 400 sq ft skateshop - which was the first our town had ever had. We hosted weekly skate meetups in front of our shop, and started to gauge the viability and interest of an indoor park in our small town. We quickly received tons of support from our local community, but also from all of the neighboring cities. We preached inclusivity and positivity, and that really seemed to resonate with everyone.
After a year, we pulled the trigger on a much bigger space with room in the back for a few small ramps and rails. The ceilings were low, the roof leaked, and the neighborhood was rough, but we still managed to nurture a very impressive regional skate community through allowing anyone to skate the ramps in the back for free.
Throughout our short but impactful life span, we were encouraging donations of used equipment, so that we could put complete setups together for kids from low income situations. If a parent couldn’t afford more than a $20 Walmart complete, we always found a way to gift them a legitimate board to get started on. This led to some local media attention, which compelled people to come in and buy a few boards at a time, for the sole purpose of allowing us to donate them as needed.
We had also been giving free group lessons to beginners at our local public skatepark, and in our small space. Growing crowds, and the end of our one year lease in sight, had me looking around for a bigger space. At the same time, a handful of people in our community started to urge me to look into becoming a nonprofit. After months of research, I decided that it was our best path forward to make a clean break and restart in a new location, and with a clear mission: to provide safe and accessible spaces and programs centered around skateboarding.
We formed our board of directors over the summer of 2022 - an amalgamation of entrepreneurs, skaters, parents of skaters, and a local radio personality - all cheerleaders for the positive impact of skateboarding. Our primary focus quickly became finding a space that would allow us to construct the area’s first free indoor skatepark. We immediately found an ideal location and started crowdfunding the construction. We’ve also worked with a lot of small businesses that have been kind enough to become sponsors for our cause.
The skatepark will cater to all skill levels, with an emphasis on providing obstacles for beginners to safely learn how to skate. We are nearing the end of construction, and hope to be open to the public before the end of the year. We see our space as being a hub for skaters of all age, gender, race, and background. We will be open 7 days a week, and will have extended hours for special events, including occasional all ages concerts. Each month, we will be hosting Girls Only skate sessions, workshops, and continued free group lessons.
The operation will be sustained by retail sales in our adjacent skateshop, donations, corporate sponsors, and grants. We hope to one day expand our model throughout the Midwest and beyond, as we’ve seen the increased sense of belonging and confidence it can manifest in a person when their passion has the space and ingredients it needs to grow.