Local kids looking for a way to stay active over spring break need look no further than the Gateway Center's indoor skate and BMX park.
From Monday through Thursday, Community Helping Hands will be hosting its fourth annual Spring Build and Jam-a fundraising event designed to give local kids something positive to do during spring break, while raising funds for repairs and ongoing maintenance of the park.
This year's Spring Build and Jam will include competitions, demonstrations from seasoned riders, prize giveaways, local bands and laser tag tournaments. It will kick off Monday with a one-day construction of a new ramp, which will be available for use for the remainder of the event.
A group of BMX bikers look on as Tommy Crail performs a stunt at the Gateway Center’s indoor skate at BMX park.
The idea for the build, which is a new aspect to the event, came because CHH wanted to generate some excitement and draw riders from farther away places. According to Amy Rohler, executive director of CHH, the build day is expected to create anticipation for the future.
"Any time we build something new, it causes excitement-and that's why we came up with the idea this year," Rohler said. "They basically build something they get to ride, and for the kids and volunteers who help, it creates a sense of ownership. It's kind of like the same thing that happens at home-when you're responsible for something, you'll treat it better. So, they're a little bit more sensitive about treating the building with respect."
She added: "In some ways, yes, (CHH) operates it- but it's (the kids') park. If they want new things and for it to be in good shape, they have to take responsibility for it."
Currently, the Spring Build and Jam is the only fundraiser hosted by the skate park, which opened in March of 2009. Over the course of the past three years the event has raised between $1,500 and $3,500 in funds.
"We'd love to break that record," said Rohler. "We don't typically do a lot of fundraisers, but this gives us a pot of money and funds to use for the purposes of maintenance and repair. We're happy with whatever we get but, obviously, we could do more things if we raise more money."
The event will run from 4-9 p.m. every evening, and the cost to participate is $5 per day-including build day. The event will culminate in a Thursday night competition for "best trick." The laser tag tournaments will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with a $50 team entry fee. Riders are expected from as far away as Cleveland and Buffalo.
The Gateway Family Center, which is a ministry of Community Helping Hands, was started a little more than four years ago with the purpose of giving kids and families a safe and positive environment to spend time. Located on the second floor of the Gateway Center, it includes laser tag, a huge indoor skate and BMX park, a cafe and snack bar and a game room with ping pong tables, air hockey, a pool table and video games. There is also a human foosball court and a room for children under age 6.
The 2013 Spring Build and Jam is sponsored by Lakeshore Paving, Gary's Carstar, Jamestown Heating and Air Systems, Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union, Allied Fire Protection Systems, Lena's Pizza, and Myott & Moore, LLP. All proceeds benefit the Gateway Family Center and go directly towards repairing ramps and building new additions in the park.
"I think (the Spring Build and Jam) helps bring good publicity to the skate park, and helps people know that it's there. It brings people from farther away places like Erie and Buffalo, and brings awareness to the city of Jamestown itself," said Rohler.
For more information about the event, call 487-1488, or visit thegatewaycenter.org.