Donny Fraser is the chief of Drawing Boards, a Queensland skate company that uses skateparks all around Australia to bring community groups together as well as developing programs to help children dealing with issues such as autism, domestic violence, drug abuse, poverty and racism.
‘Basically, we use skateboarding as a tool to redefine these people who didn’t have access to opportunities,’ he said.
‘Through regular coaching clinics, demonstrations and workshops we encourage all local youth and social workers to bring down people they are working on, as well as local parents and business owners, to meet each other and start to build a community through the skatepark.’
Mr Fraser said he was told about the division in Fremantle over the Youth Plaza and attended the Special Electors Meeting, but he did not realise how bad the division was.
‘In all my travels I have never seen so much segregation in one town,’ he said.
‘It was widely separated by age; it was almost old versus young that night and it is unfortunate.
‘In some towns, the community as a whole is fighting for these facilities as one to make something great for everyone so it was a big shock for me to see them going against it.’
He said skateparks were great for bringing people together because they were considered neutral ground, and the Esplanade Youth Plaza, despite the current division, would be great enough to bring the community together.
‘No one has authority over anyone else, so when you have parents, grandparents, business owners, kids, young adults, all equal in one environment which forces them to socialise, you get all of these people learning how to deal with each other and communicate and understand each other better.
‘This facility in the park is going to be great and so many people will use it more just to watch and admire the participants on the skate facility.’
City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said there had not been a substantial investment into youth friendly facilities in the centre of Fremantle for many decades and the Youth Plaza would fill that gap. ‘I love the possibility of the Youth Plaza being a place that further strengthens community in Fremantle and now is the time for us to work together to make this facility as well run as possible,’ the mayor said.
The City of Fremantle released the final design of the Esplanade Reserve Youth Plaza on Friday.
The total area will take up 4130sq m of the reserve, which includes 2500sq m of landscaping and 30 new trees.