Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) has become the first remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory to fund its very own outdoor concrete skate park.
Nicky Hayes, Eastern Arrernte man and Spinifex Skateboards founder, has been the driving force behind this project.
A keen skateboarder since the age of 11, he became one of the few Aboriginal skateboarders to compete professionally and the NT’s first Aboriginal qualified skateboard instructor.
His next goal was to bring the benefits of skate boarding to his community, 80 kilometres south east of Alice Springs.
Ltyentye Apurte started out with a single skate ramp in 2017 and upgraded to a wooden double storey skate course in the recreation hall.
It launched the outdoor skate park last September.
“This is my way of giving back to community,” Mr Hayes said.
“Having an indoor park, and then from the indoor park to this outdoor park here right now.”
“An outdoor skate park brings a bit more to the community, but also more to young people and families as well. “
For the past four years he has run weekly skateboarding workshops at the recreation hall and the basketball court with the Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation and the youth program of the MacDonnell Regional Council.
“I wanted the skate park to improve the wellbeing of the kids in Ltyentye Apurte,” Mr Hayes said.
“To ensure they stay active and to have an outdoor skate park where families can hang out and accommodate young people’s needs of having fun within a safe space for skateboards, bikes and scooters.”
The skate park near the store, footy oval and basketball court has become another place where residents socialise and enjoy sport.
Mr Hayes took his idea for the $436,600 outdoor skate park to a community meeting two years ago.
A local working group that plans projects with the Central Land Council agreed to fund some of the project cost from Ltyentye Apurte’s community lease income and income from a pilot project of the CLC and the National Indigenous Australian Agency, on the condition that grant funding make up the balance.
“The working group were happy to be part of something that is unique, to be the first community to have an outdoor skate park,” Mr Hayes said.
The community’s Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation and the CLC’s community development team helped the working group to get the project done.
The CLC sourced the grant from the Aboriginals Benefit Account that made the park possible.
Construction started last August, with designers Eastbywest and builders from Grind Projects working every day to complete the park in five weeks.
The local kids made the park their own by painting parts of it with their designs. A painted Aboriginal flag also features prominently.
The community has plans to put in a shelter and landscaping to soften the area and add shade.
Some of the best skateboarders in the country came for the opening of the park to celebrate this Australian skateboarding history event.
Mr Hayes hopes they will keep coming back.
“Bringing competitions here might be a great thing as well, down the track,” he said.
For now he is just happy that the local kids visit the park every day until dark, spending less time on their screens.
“It has been tremendous to see all the kids in the community having fun and enjoying themselves each day.”