Chiltern community and Indigo Shire council rally behind 12-year-old’s push for more skating structures

A 12-year-old boy helped secure $5,000 from Indigo Shire Council and the Chiltern community to establish more skating structures in town.

Jack Birthisel is determined to improve Chiltern’s skating options and has compiled several petitions and community enquiries, and met with a local council worker, in pursuit of this goal.

His efforts were rewarded with a successful council grant application last week, as well as community donations, to pay for the construction of a new grind-box, quarter-pipe and half-pipe in town.

He said the town deserved more than its existing half-pipe.

“The reason I want a better skatepark and everyone else does is because no one can learn [the current facilities],” he said.

“There’s nothing to do. There are only ramps. You can’t learn to go down a bank because it’s not wide enough.

“[It’s] not the safest as the concrete is really hard. If you go to another skate park, you’ll normally find that their concrete is really smooth.”

“Benefit more from the community on horseback”

Jack said there were plans to create a temporary skate park site on the old city tennis courts before potentially adding to the old skate park site.

He said if more local skating developments could be achieved, it could bring great benefit to the community.

Jack and his friends Lincoln Panlook (left) and Harry Williams prepare to ride down the town halfpipe.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Callum Marshall)

“Hopefully if we get a whole new skatepark, we’ll have more members of the Chiltern community,” he said.

“Not being inside all day because they have nothing to do outside.”

“We have to make it a suitable environment”

The Chiltern Neighborhood House supported Jack’s grant application to the council.

Its coordinator Maree Murphy – who is Jack’s aunt – said that after the council’s $3,000 grant, they were still $1,700 short for the estimate for building new skating structures.

“As soon as he (Jack) put that on Facebook, the community was absolutely amazing,” she said.

“I think the Chiltern Pro Rodeo Club responded within five minutes and said ‘we’re more than happy to pay the $1,500 you need.

Ms Murphy said a local earthmoving company provided an additional $500 and locals continued to reach out to provide further support.

“[Jack’s] does such a great job… he did his best to get his message across that if you want kids to do things, you have to make it an appropriate environment for them.

Go ‘beyond’ for city kids

Karen Berrysmith of Chiltern Tourism and Development said they would also provide $500 for Jack’s plans.

She said the organization was thrilled for him and happy that he was able to secure funding.

“In the future, we will defend him and see if we can help him in another way,” she said.

“Whether as a county advocacy group to seek extensions or potentially to obtain grants.”

A sheet filled with dates, names, signatures and messages of support for Jack Birthisel's skating structure plans
Some of Jack’s push supporting local signings to establish more skating facilities.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Callum Marshall)

Local rodeo club president Michael Phibbs said Jack has gone “above and beyond” for children in the community by gathering support and funding for more skating options.

“There’s three or four pages of signatures up there in the pub. They’re all for it. Everybody’s supporting it,” he said.

“But Jack took it and he did.”

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