The Greg Moore Youth Center has changed the lives of countless people in Maple Ridge.
This month marked the centre’s 20th anniversary and it was an opportunity for people like Kyle Dion to look back on how his time at the youth center set him on the path to success. He became the boss of a company that builds skate parks around the world.
Dion was a skater when they were primarily seen not as potential Olympians, but as a public nuisance who needed to hitch their jeans up. Before there was a Greg Moore Youth Center, the Cam Neely arena was on the same site – the name of the rink was later transferred to Planet Ice. Over the summer, the arena became the neutral zone and children like Dion were allowed to skate in the old barn.
He quickly got to work building ramps for skaters. He was enterprising. After an election cycle, he reused wood from local candidate boards for skateboard ramps.
Associated with the youth program, he worked at the Neutral Zone selling skateboards and parts, and when it became the Greg Moore Youth Center, he built the ramps that are still there. This whole ramp building started his business. His company New Line Skateparks is one of the top three in the world for the design and construction of these concrete facilities, he said. They are currently doing multi-million dollar parks in Victoria and Alabama, and he has mounted hundreds of projects all over the world.
He is also vice-president of the non-profit organization Canada Skateboard, which strives to send Canadian competitors to the Olympics.
He is now 46 and his two sons have participated in the Youth Mentorship at the Greg Moore Youth Center. He sees it as a positive place.
âI couldn’t imagine what my life would have been like,â he said. âIt helped a young entrepreneur get started.
Dion thanks the people and the program, and says the building gives them a place to do a great job.
âMaple Ridge has always been unique, in that the youth program was so strong,â he said. âThen when they had a great setup, it just made it better. “
Tony Controneo, director of community engagement for the city’s parks and recreation department, said the city has a great program, but calls the youth center “a complete game changer,” with the almost limitless possibilities to develop. programs.
The philosophy has always been to allow young people to âownâ the facility.
âWe don’t paint a wall without consulting them,â he said.
As a result, the kids come to skateboard, climb the rock face, or play games like billiards, foosball, street hockey, or even a board game. Then some become leaders and mentors, employees and ultimately community leaders as teachers, RCMP officers and city employees. Controneo says that after two decades, he sees the children of GMYC contributing to their city in many ways.
Brian Patel started as a children’s day camp facilitator with the program in 1986, then returned after college as a youth worker in 1994, and is now the program coordinator.
He describes the people who work at GMYC as ârelationship building experts,â and this has served them well throughout their lives.
They participate in programs, volunteer, become junior staff, and then join the organization.
Patel said young people stay involved because their participation is appreciated.
âIt’s led by young people, for young people,â he said. âThe children drive the initiatives.
âThe main thing is that young people take ownership of their space.
Henry Chan started out there as a skateboarder and is now a youth worker.
âIt changed my life,â he said. âThis place gave me a good head on the shoulders. It gives me a good perspective. There are a lot of good models. “
Ric Moore was a constant supporter of the facility, which was built in the name of his son, Greg Moore, who grew up in Maple Ridge, and was a racing champion until his tragic death in a racing accident. in 1999.
âBy the time we were putting a shovel in the ground, Greg Moore unfortunately walked by,â Controneo said. âHe was a great role model. “
When her name was suggested for the center – by a teenager – it seemed perfect.
The Greg Moore Foundation was established to honor his legacy, and for the past 20 years has donated money to the youth center. Ric was part of the opening ceremonies and his family donated $ 30,000 to purchase the new climbing wall.
Since then, the foundation has donated $ 11,700 each year to pay the youth who work at the center each summer. He recently pledged to continue the contribution for another 10 years, bringing the total support to some $ 380,000 in total.
Controneo said most cities still don’t have facilities to compete with the Greg Moore Youth Center.
“It was way ahead of its time and it is still relevant today,” he said. âThis makes Maple Ridge unique in providing services to youth.
Due to COVID-19, the center will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a video trip. Video and other information on GMYC can be found at mapleridge.ca
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