A new program run through Rocky Mountain Adaptive designed to get more people performing ollies and kickflips had a successful launch at the Canmore skateboard park.
The Olney Family Scholarship – run in coordination with Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Que. – had more than a dozen participants catching air and carving at the park for a pair of nights.
Matt Murphy, who was selected for the scholarship, said the work started by getting sponsorships, contacting participants, talking to the Town and training fellow staff to help with the program.
“My entire summer goal was to try and make the skateboard program a reality. … The skateboard community is amazing,” he said.
“The goal was to get people on skateboards to try it out. The first steps were to lockdown equipment, so I contacted UNLTD Boardshop, Canadian Tire and recently The Source Snowboard and Skate Shop reached out and provided gear. After we had the gear, we set a date and were good to go.”
The first night on Aug. 11 had 12 participants – twice what was expected – and the Aug. 25 night brought out numbers again.
Murphy first got involved in February when Bishop’s University sent out an email to his business and sports studies programs. After being selected, he arrived in Canmore at the end of May to begin work.
For Murphy, getting people into skateboarding was a natural fit. Having only taken up the sport himself last summer, he thought the sport and its welcoming community could go hand in hand.
“I thought we could get more people skateboarding through RMA. The entire goal is to get people on skateboards, get them comfortable, get the basics down,” he said.
“I hope they realize the freedom and independence skateboarding can bring to people, even just how much potential there is to grow. It was the first time a lot of people stepped on a skateboard and to see how much they progressed on this night alone is amazing. It was super cool to witness and I hope they continue in the future.”
The internship was created by Canmore resident Marie Olney, herself a graduate of Bishop’s University. The Olney family has four Bishop’s University graduates and has been a long-time supporter of Rocky Mountain Adaptive.
“RMA was born out of a passion for the outdoors, and making sure that people of all abilities, get the opportunity to allow sport and recreation to positively impact their lives,” Olney said in a Bishop’s University media release.
“Our underlying efforts are to create programs and experiences that support individuals to not only participate, but to continue to learn and excel at adaptive sport in the Canadian Rockies.”
The internship is divided into two parts, with the first being a three-month summer residency at RMA in Canmore to design and develop the project. The second part is a six-credit course to be completed at Bishop’s and work with RMA remotely to revise the final project.
The funding comes from Olney and the first year of the program in 2021 had a project to get more people into fishing.
Rocky Mountain Adaptive is a charity that provides activities at low cost to help children and youth with physical, developmental or cognitive impairments take part in mountain sports and recreation activities.
The programs allow participants to increase independence, self-esteem, strength, coordination, mobility and their overall health and well-being.
The Canmore-based organization began in 2009 to help promote adaptive sport for individuals and started with adaptive ski lessons at Sunshine Village Ski Resort.
Murphy said there are other accessible skateboarding programs such as Alt Route in Calgary and they were also able to use RMA’s snow slider with a skateboard to open up opportunities for other people to take part.
He added since being part of the skateboarding community, he continually finds people accepting and wanting to grow the sport.
“The skateboarding community and the people I’ve met at the skate parks have offered to help. The board shops fully sponsored us for everything we could’ve asked for,” Murphy said. “The whole skateboard community just wants to get people into skateboarding.
“I think the path forward for skateboarding is on the rise. They just brought skateboarding to the Olympics last summer and they want to bring it to the Paralympics by 2028, so it’s coming.”