Just 80kms southeast of Alice Springs is a remote Aboriginal community called Ltyentye Apurte, also known as Santa Teresa. This Eastern Arrernte community of approximately 500 people is located in the middle of the Central Australian desert surrounded by some of Australia's most harsh yet beautiful country. Although the living conditions can be tough and resources are tight, the Santa Teresa community has many inspiring community lead initiatives developing, however, one that has drawn much attention over the past 2 years is the Santa Teresa Skate Park. This skate park is the first of it's kind throughout the central desert and is driven and lead by local man and Traditional Owner, Nicky Hayes.
Nicky's Story -
I began skating in Alice Springs at the age of 11 and continued to skate throughout my adolescence in Adelaide. Not only did the sport come naturally to me, I fell in love with everything that came with it. The self determination, the community and the adrenaline. Now at the age of 34 and still skating, I am passing on my skills to the younger generations of my home community in Santa Teresa. The idea came to me many years ago and through drive to follow my dream I campaigned to get an indoor skate park built within the sport and recreation shed and became the Northern Territories first Indigenous qualified skateboard instructor. I knew that the newly built facility would bring much more than just rolling around on a board. This largely non-competitive sport is an all-inclusive platform where one can find solidity whilst building comradery and companionship. It’s a way of reliving stress and anxiety while building balance, coordination and confidence through resilience, persistence and awareness of your own capabilities. As I am also a Youth Worker, I have been able to see these benefits first hand. Skateboarding has always been considered risky. However, in a stimulating yet safe environment, managing risk positively impacts the growth and development of a young person’s brain by making informed judgements. The indoor park has been a huge success and has drawn attention nation wide. I have received a lot of support through the community, my employer, local news and radio stations, financial, equipment and clothing donations, all of which I am very grateful for. I have also hosted many young people from town who have come out on organised bike and skate trips and even the PASSPORT Skate team which is made up of skaters from around the country and two international skaters, one from England and one from France. It was a very proud moment for me to be able to share my story and culture and expose the travelling team to another side of Australia.
Many other things have come from this venture. I am now in the middle of setting up painting workshops where young people can learn culture and story through skateboard design and traditional art making. I am currently developing my own company where unique board and t-shirt designs made by local artist and young people can be sold interstate. Profits made from sales can go towards yet another dream I have for the young people of Santa Teresa. And this is where we need your help...
In June 2019, I wish to take a group of 8 young aspiring skaters on an interstate trip to Brisbane. Research shows that there is a clear relationship between location and the educational and social outcomes for young people across Australia. Rural and remote students have reduced access to educational and recreational services, therefore, providing an opportunity to experience new things, meet new people and see a world beyond their home community has the potential of being life changing. The trip to Brisbane would be the very first of hopefully many, Spinifex Skateboards First Nations Skate Tours. The 5 day, 4 night trip would run over the school holiday period and would consist of not only skating but the opportunity to participate in holiday activities supported through the Australian Skateboarding Federation, including a skate competition at the end. Making friendships with new people your own age helps build communication skills, trust and confidence. The sharing of skills, experiences and common passions between young people from very different backgrounds allows for a cross-cultural exchange. This trip is hopefully the beginning of a long lasting connection and partnership between Santa Teresa and the Brisbane skate community. Educating other young people about Aboriginal cultural provides pride and ownership and being exposed to what other opportunities are out there in the world helps build an awareness of a life outside of your own. One day, Santa Teresa would love to, in return, host young people from Brisbane where they too could educate and expose other young people to a rich culture.
The youth who will be attending the trip will be selected by a panel of community members who will be assisting me to host two community competitions. The selection criteria will be based on skill, attitude and overall participation over the two competitions and throughout other skate sessions. The First Nations Skate Tour needs help to raise $15,000 which will go towards flights, accommodation, food and all other expenses. The overall trip will cost more than this requested amount, however, I wish to run other fundraising events that the young people can participate in to help educate them around fundraising and the efforts that are required to provide such an incredible opportunity.
This trip will be something unforgettable by all those involved therefore, I wish to thank you in advance for listening to my story and any donations made are very much appreciated by myself, the youngsters from the First Nations Skate Team and the entire Santa Teresa community.
I would like to thank all stakeholders within the community who have supported this project. I could not have gotten this far without their support, especially Atyenhenge Atherre Aboriginal Corporation (AAAC) which is a locally owned not-for-profit NGO. Susie Low, CEO of AAAC, has agreed to be the beneficiary of this campaign and will therefore be holding the finances until our trip is ready to go. This creates accountability and transparency for funds raised and I am very grateful for this support.