Limitless learning can be found at Rhodes Skatepark Article

Limitless learning can be found at Rhodes Skatepark

When Glenn Rhodes, a WWII veteran and former POW, heard about local Boise businesses chasing off young skateboarders, he easily could have shrugged off the reports with a sigh and moved on with his day. Instead, the Idaho native in his seventies sat down with his neighbor, a sixteen-year-old skater named Tim Shandro, to talk about the problem. 

Together they went downtown to see what the sport of skateboarding was all about and to meet and talk with other skaters. The kids all said the same thing, “There’s nowhere to skate” 

In 1992, Rhodes approached the county and city about designating a recreation space specifically for the skaters. A 1.28-acre site, located between 15th and 16th streets under the I-184 connector, was dedicated and Rhodes spent five days a week for the next two years overseeing and working on the park’s construction. 

Athletics are a great example of another side of learning, just the perseverance, the persistence, the grit that happens when kids are working on perfecting a skill.

Jamie Scott, Board Chair of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation

Beyond his own dedicated efforts, he recruited over 130 contractors, civic groups, and individuals to donate their time and resources to complete a park for Boise’s youth. The park, in its original form, was dedicated in 1995 and was named for Rhodes, a man inspired by recreation and community.

Almost twenty years later, the place Glenn Rhodes had envisioned for Boise’s skating community to gather and recreate had become dilapidated. Seeing a need, in 2014 the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation (JKAF), with the City of Boise Parks and Recreation Department, began a major renovation of the site. “One thing our foundation really likes to champion is the power to the individual,” states Jamie Scott, Board Chair of the Foundation.

There are many skateparks out there, but we wanted one that would really be the best in the world.

Bryan Madden, Program Officer at the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation

In order to build a world-class park for Idaho kids and athletes alike, we collaborated with experts in the area of skatepark design, Grindline Skateparks, key stakeholders like the Boise Skateboard Association, and local skaters. “We were able to find the right partners to make this vision a reality,” reflects Bryan Madden, Program Officer at JKAF. “There are many skateparks out there, but we wanted one that would really be the best in the world,” Madden continues.

The redesign began in 2014 and was completed two years later. According to Matt Fluegge of Grindline Skateparks, “When we design a park, we design with a philosophy we call “Ladder Progression” which is designing something that’s going to be fun for a beginner or an intermediate level skateboarder and is still going to be fun for years, or decades, to come.”

Additionally, the team collaborated with organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to ensure that the facilities are accessible to everyone who wants to use the park. Madden remarks, “Adaptive athletes are taking advantage of Rhodes and are challenged and learning just as much as able-bodied athletes.”

X Games, WMX demo and clinic, Rhodes Skatepark

“Athletics are a great example of another side of learning, just the perseverance, the persistence, the grit that happens when kids are working on perfecting a skill. And, it is also something schools don’t promote that well. We often set expectations for kids that they should get everything right the first time, and in skating and athletics it’s accepted to fail, and expected,” said Jamie Scott, “I’ve been really blown away by the sense of community that happens at skate parks.” 

Rhodes skatepark remains one of the most popular recreation spots in the city, just as Fluegge of Grindline Skateparks envisioned at the project’s start, “The Foundation recognizes that skateboarding is a healthy outlet for kids these days, and how popular it is, and the fact that this park is probably getting used, per square foot, more than any other park facility in the city of Boise.”

“I think it would be wonderful if Glenn Rhodes could see what was happening now. He just couldn’t have imagined it.”

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