Mum leads push to paint the park

Plan to beat taggers at their own game

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 08:05 12/06/2014
skatepark
SALLY KIDSON/FAIRFAX NZ

BLANK CANVAS: Mother Kirsty Cameron with son Ashton at the Nelson skatepark.

skatepark
SALLY KIDSON/FAIRFAX NZ
SPLASH OF COLOUR: Bowl de Gemenos in France features work from professional graffiti artists.

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A Nelson mother has a bold idea to solve the tagging problem at the Nelson skatepark - get the park professionally graffitied.

Kirsty Cameron is a fan of all the street art popping up around the city and sees the skatepark as another potential canvas.

"If we can put a dead penguin on Bridge St. Surely we could put a volcano or a surf park on the skatepark," she says.

Kirsty regularly brings her son Ashton, 9, to the Neale Park and started chatting to a council worker. He said he was coming to the park every week to paint out graffiti.

She spoke to some of the kids using the park, who said that though some of the graffiti was cool, a lot of it was shoddy.

She had been thinking for ages how it would be cool to get the park painted. Kirsty and Ashton and then came across an awesome example of a skate park in Gemenos, France, that had been professionally painted - "it just looks amazing".

Her idea is to get the children and teenagers who skate at the park involved in the project by possibly holding a competition calling for ideas for images for different parts of the park. The best ideas could then be professionally done. The skatepark users could also get involved by raising money to get the project off the ground.

"Most parents know if you get a kid involved with cooking they are more likely to eat their meal," Kirsty says.

"If you get them involved with something it gives them a sense of responsibility."

She believes they would feel a sense of ownership with the park and look after it and make sure no-one vandalised it.

She is passionate about young people and says the kids who use the park are awesome, with many of them showing kindness towards her son.

"The kids are at such a crucial age," she says. "They need to know they've got a voice and that the community cares about them.''

She knows that there will be some knockers, but wants people to try  to  see the project from the youth perspective. ''This is something really cool that Nelson could do for its youth.''

Kirsty says she is looking for feedback and help on how to make her idea a reality. ''If I had the know-how I would make it happen in a day. I just want to see if it's something that we can do.''

A couple of skaters The Leader spoke to at the park gave the idea their approval. ''I think it is quite cool. As long as it doesn't make the concrete slippery,'' Asha Hollander-Fahie,  15, says.

Jamie Squires, 13,  says  painting the park would make it a lot better than its current dull patchwork grey. In its current state it was a big blank canvas that was tempting to taggers.

''If it was done professionally there would be no need to graffiti the skatepark. If it was done really well. Pnte people would respect it.''

Kirsty has contacted the Nelson City Council about her idea.

A council spokeswoman says the council is keen, where possible, to work with community-led initiatives to improve the city's parks and facilities.

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''We would be open to discussing the idea and seeing if it would be a realistic possibility to create something like this on the Neale Park Skate Park,'' the spokeswoman  says.

The city council had no budget allocated towards the proposal and shesays  the best way for a citizen to get its project on the council's ''to-do'' list  is  to make a submission to the annual plan.

This year's annual plan process is nearly finished, but will begin again in March 2015.

There are  other ways to fund the project and the council has put Kirsty in touch with councillor Matt Lawrey who helped get a mural in Victory Square before he was elected.

The spokeswoman says that  though graffiti  is  an issue at the park, the cost of clean-up is  only staff time. The paint used to cover it up  is  recycled paint  donated by Resene.

Kirsty says she  will be happy to look into the project further to see if she can help get it off the ground.

- The Nelson Mail

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