October 24, 2007 | By: Jeff Franklin
Owingsville, Ky.

A new 4-H skateboarding club is changing people’s perceptions in Bath County. Young people who hang out at what is called “the mill”, the site of a former livestock feed mill in Owingsville where skateboarders and rollerbladers gather, say local residents have a preconceived attitude toward them. But since Terence Clemons, of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, started a skateboard club for the young people a more positive image has emerged.

“We plan and do activities to show their skills and loyalty to skateboarding, but we also do community service projects,” said the Bath County 4-H youth development agent. “We do everything from clean up property to demonstration activities for nursing homes, for the city, things like that. We do a lot of things around the 4-H way of learning.”

Doing other activities besides skateboarding, such as community service projects, has changed people’s attitudes toward the young people, and parents have bought into the idea. When the club holds its monthly meeting at the mill, parents of club members are there to support them. Stephanie Mann’s 10-year-old son Jesse is in the skateboard club. She sees it as a good alternative for kids who don’t participate in traditional sports.

“I think it’s really great,” she said. “It gives a chance for kids who aren’t involved in football, basketball and baseball to get some fresh air, exercise and be involved in a group sport. They have a lot of fun with it.”

Clemons said the club started in April with 16 members, and since has grown to more than 50, most of whom are boys with a few girls mixed in. They range in age from about 8 to 18. The club is like any other 4-H club with officers and annual membership dues. Members say being part of the club has helped them be more accepted in their community.

“If you go up to somebody and tell them you’re part of the skateboard club, they know it’s all right,” said club member Corey Lykins, a Bath County High School student. “They don’t think you’re such a bad kid anymore, because you’re a part of something.”

Fellow club member Cary Anderson, also a student at Bath County High agrees. “It gives us a good name. We do stuff and people watch us,” he said referring to their skateboarding demonstrations, “and they sort of realize we aren’t up to no good all the time.”

One club member said skateboarders used to get in trouble with the police, but since joining the skateboard club that hasn’t happened.

“It’s kept us out of a lot of trouble with the police,” said Brandon Temple, a skateboard club member. “Being at the mill, having our own little spot to skate, we used to get in more trouble before the club came around.” 

Club members even designed a t-shirt with the club name on it in purple, black and white. The name “pure” appears across the chest in capital purple letters on the black t-shirt, with the words “purely skateboarding” in small white letters underneath. Clemons says the shirt refers to just what these young people are doing, practicing the pure art of skateboarding.

After forming the club last spring, members skated in the annual May Day parade in Owingsville as a group, which was a source of pride for one club member.

Clemons said, “This kid told me, ‘I am so proud to be a part of a club. This is the first time I have ever been part of a club,’ and that says a whole lot.”

Contact: 

Terence Clemons, 606-674-6121