A Belgrave South boy spoke up at a Yarra Ranges Council meeting to ask for a skate park.
Aaron Denny made a submission to the Tuesday 28 May meeting, complete with PowerPoint presentation, suggesting the council build a skate park on an old community house site in Belgrave South Recreation Reserve.
The 11-year-old said he’d lived in the area all his life and attended Belgrave South Primary School and Belgrave South Baptist Church.
He got into riding scooters with his friends when he was in Grade 3 and now in Grade 6, the mates went to Monbulk, Upwey and Knox to ride and practice tricks at skate parks.
“We would like a skate park to visit after school and on weekends,” Aaron told the meeting.
He said the space was “a good distance away from houses” and in a well-used area with multiple facilities including parking, drinking fountains and toilets.
Aaron said a skate park would provide social and exercise opportunities and would teach persistence, with kids needing to dedicate time and patience to learn new tricks.
He said the facility would discourage skateboarders from grinding at the primary school, preventing wood from getting damaged “and an unhappy principal”.
“It would also keep people off the netball courts which are newly resurfaced,” he said.
Aaron approached local shopkeepers for their opinion and said they were all in favour, and he collected 129 signatures on a petition at the school.
“I hope we have a skate park to ride in the future,” he told the meeting.
Cr Mike Clarke said Aaron presented very clearly and professionally.
“Thank you for speaking up for your local community,” he said.
“We need more boys and girls like you.”
Cr Terry Avery said there was “no way I would have done what you are doing now” when he was Aaron’s age and congratulated him.
Mayor Tony Stephenson said the council would take Aaron’s suggestion on-board and refer it to the engineering department for consideration.
Aaron told the Mail he came up with the idea when he walked past the site with his mum, Hannah, so she suggested he write a letter.
He sent one to Cr Clarke and then bumped into him at a Dandenong Ranges Music Council event.
Cr Clarke suggested Aaron speak at a council meeting – a scary thought for the student.
“I wasn’t too nervous but I just made sure everything was working properly,” he said.
Hannah said she and Aaron’s dad Steven were proud of his efforts.
“He did the petition himself. He did everything himself, we just had to give him the channels,” she said.
“I was more nervous than he was.”
She was pleased the council was so receptive to Aaron’s participation and said it showed that kids should follow through on their ideas.
Hannah said the site was a good social meeting place and looked quite empty without the recently-demolished community house, and had other facilities that had recently been refurbished.