Flathead County Coverage

Nov 16, 2012 9:32 AM by Laura Wilson - KAJ News

Funding woes forcing closure of Kalispell skatepark

KALISPELL - More than 10,000 kids try out Serious JuJu, a ministry-based skatepark that offers kids a safe outlet, as well as free meals and housing if they need it, each year. But the non-profit group is at risk of losing it all come January.

It's been a home away from home for many kids in the Flathead Valley for the last six years.

"Kids come here for God and it's a good place to be Thursdays and Fridays. I have a lot of friends that come here. You get to know different people and get close to them. It's like family," skater Jonta French said.

"It's safe for them. They trust each other and they trust us," added girls group leader, and parent, Dawn Griffin.

"This ministry was really born out of seeing the need of the kids down at the skate park. The need for family is the strongest. With a large building comes a large overhead, which means it takes a lot of money to keep it going," Serious JuJu owner J.D. Carribin explained.

Funding dropped 30% in the last year alone, giving the Nicci and J.D. Carribin no choice but to close down the building.

"This is my second home. If I didn't have it, I'd be pretty upset," skater Tanner Archuleta told us. "This is my place to vent, and this is also my place to hang out."

"We assured them over and over, this is not an end- it's a change," Griffin said. "We're just not sure what that change is yet."

Volunteers say they are doing everything they can to make sure that outlet doesn't disappear for youth.

By liquidating all of the skate park's assets next month, owners can pay outstanding bills and invest in a mobile skate park, which would travel throughout multiple counties. But establishing a new home base isn't out of the question yet.

The Carrabin's may actually have a chance to rebuild their skatepark at the old Coats for Kids site in Evergreen, but they'll need a lot of community support to make that happen.

"What we really need to do is tear the building down and rebuild. I'm excited at the prospect of being getting to do that and being right in the heart of the Flathead," J.D. Carribin explained.

In the meantime, volunteers are asking community members to come support their auction, and help support local kids.

Click here to learn how you can help out.

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