Skaters doing it for themselves

"Skateboard activist" Dillon Johnson

A city that has no skate park, becomes a skate park. That is how “skateboard activist” Dillon Johnson describes his frustration with the fact that Bloemfontein, a city of hundreds of skateboarders, still doesn’t have a skate park.

But in spite of the frustration, local skaters, with Johnson leading from the front, do not rest on their laurels. They believe skateboarding is a vital part of any urban community and they will do what they have to to make sure it grows and develops to take its rightful place in society.

“Skateboarding has been a common feature of South Africa’s urban environment for many decades. In fact, it’s so popular with youth that today there are few cities on the planet that don’t boast at least one group skateboarding youth group. It offers a healthy, athletic option for today’s youth.

“Many skateboarders skate several times a week and often for hours at a time. There is clearly a commitment for these individuals to develop their skills, yet they do this without coaches, teams, and often without even an appropriate place to do it,” says Johnson.
However, they are not taking this lying down any longer.

They believe that 2020 will be the year the tide will change for skateboarders in the City of Roses. And they are not leaving it to chance, but taking it into their own hands, through their Create Skate Academy.

“Other cities have taken full advantage of using skateboarding as a tool to get kids out of the streets. We want to go beyond that, challenging ourselves to bring out the gifts children possess before other people put them down at an early stage.

Johnson and his group of skateboarders teach youngsters the special skills they need to become good skaters. They focus on mutual help among the students so that more experienced skaters help less experienced skaters with everything from homework to advice, and through a new venture they want to become their own suppliers of equipment such as boards, bearings, etc.

“We assist our students with the exact moves and tricks they come up with at a given moment. This way, we let them find their own style in skateboarding, letting them achieve the freedom and amazing qualities that come with it. We also focus on the playing element in skateboarding.

“This makes our classes a great place for playing, learning and being part of a community. We are offering the classes for free at the moment, so anyone who wants to volunteer in helping with the kids, or have some skill or art they can teach, even if you’re good at helping with homework, please contact me on 065-955-7253.

Any donations (shoes, school accessories, food, etc.) will also be appreciated,” Johnson says.

Create Skate Academy reopens on 15 January 2020.

Pieter Delport