Local teacher building vertical skate ramp for community kids

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The next time you’re driving through West Augustine, don’t be surprised if you see people flying through the air.

Brennan Gagnon, a local homeowner and teacher at R. J. Murray Middle School, is building an 11-foot-tall, 24-foot-wide vertical skate ramp in his backyard. Once completed, Datil Pepper Vert Ramp will be open to members of the community for free.

When Gagnon closed on his first home this past year, he immediately knew it was the perfect opportunity to pursue his dream of providing a safe space for kids to come together and experience something new.

“Vert skating offers a unique set of thrills that a lot of skateboarding doesn’t offer,” explained Gagnon. “Skateboarding, in general, offers two unique opportunities. Both the community and the people that you’re able to meet are incredibly special. I thought to myself, ‘If I’m ever able to become a homeowner, I would love to raise the money or save the money and build a vert ramp for kids to use, create friendships, develop confidence and just really conquer something.’”

As a youth worker and teacher in West Augustine, Gagnon was aware of the need to create something special for kids in the community.

Since they broke ground, the project has raised more than $12,000 for material and labor, while additional funds for a staircase, ladders, fans and lights are still needed.

Upon completion of the ramp, other donations will go toward purchasing a set of “house gear” to store onsite for kids who don’t have their own, including skateboards, helmets and protective pads.

“Skateboarding offers an outlet,” explained Gagnon. “Growing up can be tough on young kids, and the kids where I live are under the highest amount of stress, so it just seemed natural to open up that space. It is also an excellent opportunity for cross-cultural relationships and friendships to form between local residents and those outside the community who might never have stepped foot in West Augustine otherwise. I want to give a huge thank you to anyone who has given this project any ounce of attention, money or time.” 

The Datil Pepper Vert Ramp is located on Tocoi Road in West Augustine and will be open to the community during set hours to be determined at a later date.

Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/saint-augustine-fl-backyard-vert-ramp. Gagnon can be contacted at brennangagnon711@gmail.com

Follow along on social media @datilpeppervertramp for updates.

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