WORCESTER, Mass. - A group of friends took their love for the sport and are sharing it with the Worcester community by opening Vessel Skatepark.
“I saw a huge need in this area for an indoor skate park and it’s every skaters dream to open one, but it’s something we wanted to do to provide something for this community,” executive director of Vessel Skatepark, Stephen Schoge, said.
Schoge said they offer a place for people of all ages and skill levels to skate for free. Vessel will provide helmets and equipment rentals for free and they also plan to offer skate lessons.
“I grew up poor and there was no way my parents were going to pay for me to go to an indoor park to skate,” Schoge said. “I know this area. There are a lot of single-parent households, there’s a lot of low-income families and we didn’t want anybody to want to come here and not be able to. So, making it free just made sense.”
The owners have more in common than just skateboarding, they’re all part of the City Light Church who also operates out of the facility.
Spiritual leader at Vessel, Kevin McGinn, grew up in Worcester and said they want to create a welcoming environment for everyone, especially youth. The church is funded through donations, and work closely with other community organizations.
“We’ve gotten information from (District Attorney Joe Early’s office) about how… in terms of youth and crime prevention, kind of that magic window, the prevention window is from 3 (p.m.) in the afternoon into the evening hours when youth, they get out of school and that’s typically when they’re getting into trouble or being brought into things that will lead them into trouble so we specifically,” McGinn said. “Our hours are going to be those afternoon into evening hours so that youth have a place to come.”
McGinn said while they’re a religious group, the faith aspect isn’t front and center here.
“It’s changed our life, so it just makes sense. It’s part of how we interact with people and that if this is something you might be interested in, we’d love to talk to you about it,” McGinn said. “This is so much more than just a skate park. We want this to be a place where people can build healthy relationships with other peers and adults.”