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Local youths start skateboard ministry

January 13, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Since skateboarders cannot legally skate on Boonsboro streets, Jacob Dawson and Richie Jones thought they would have a better chance doing it at church.

"On the way, they can learn about Jesus and stuff," said Richie, 14, of Cearfoss.

Jacob, 15, and Richie started a skate ministry at New Covenant Fellowship Church in Boonsboro. The ministry has about 35 members, though only a few attend the church, said Pastor Robert Martin, who is head of the ministry.

Though it's a little early to be breaking out the skateboards, the hobby is on the minds of the club's members.

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The group is preparing for its second annual tournament, to be held in the spring. Though the church's skating ministry has grown from its initial 10 members, this year's contest will be missing something.

Last year's winner, Jonathan Barnes, died in an early-December house fire that killed two other Washington County teens who also attended Boonsboro High School.

New Covenant Fellowship Church plans to host the spring tournament in Jonathan's honor.

"We're going to use it as a fundraiser, donating the money to a burn victim," Martin said.

Many churches started skate clubs for teenagers after several towns started banning the activity on public streets and sidewalks.

"Most people, when they see skateboarders, they see, like, vandals who don't care about nothing," Jacob said.

Jacob's mother, Paula Dawson, said she was guilty of judging skaters. But she said her perception of skateboarders has changed since the church started the ministry.

"You see kids on the street and you hear all sorts of thoughts because the way they look, and you think, 'Oh my,'" Dawson said.

Club member Rachel Clark, 17, of Hagerstown, said she's amazed at what she has seen at the club.

"It amazes me because I can't do it," Rachel said. "I'm so clumsy. I tried a couple of times, but fell on my face."

Chuck Irwin, 18, of Boonsboro, has been chronicling the skate club's activities, videotaping every skate session. He's editing the footage for a DVD documentary that he hopes to distribute to church members and Jonathan's family.

"Jon was in a lot of those films," Irwin said.

Irwin said about 15 skaters attended the club's Wednesday and Saturday sessions during the warm-weather months. Sessions will start again in March, Roberts said.

The sessions mix in a little scripture with a lot of jumping and grinding - skater jargon for sailing across objects, Richie said.

"First, we skate, have Bible study for like 10, 15 minutes, and skate again before it gets dark," Richie said.

Richie said the continued practice has paid off. He now is able to do tricks like the heel flip and kick flip, which, as he describes it, is what happens when the skateboard, "I don't know. It just, like, spins."

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