Lawrence Parks and Recreation to offer skateboarding classes this fall; open house set for this weekend

photo by: Tatum Goetting/Journal-World

The skateboard ramp at Lawrence's Centennial Park is shown. The ramp will be the site of a new series of Lawrence Parks & Recreation skateboard classes this fall.

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting an open house with information about upcoming skateboarding classes this fall from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday at Centennial Park, 700 Rockledge Road.

The open house will introduce the new program and serve as an opportunity for potential skateboarders to meet with Parks and Rec instructor Josh Rukes. This will be the first time the department has put on a program like this.

Rukes is a fairly advanced skater, recreation programmer Molly Gordon said, and he has participated in skateboarding competitions in the past.

Gordon said the program is in partnership with local skate shop River Rat Print and Skate, located in North Lawrence.

When River Rat owner Justin Shiney approached the city about the possibility of putting in a new ramp at Centennial Park, that prompted a conversation about holding skateboarding lessons there.

“A couple employees are avid skaters, and one in particular gives private lessons,” Gordon said. “So we saw the need for lessons in the community.”

The lessons will be split up into three groups for children and teens. One will be for ages 5 to 7; another for ages 8 to 10; and the final age group ranges from 11 to 15.

Trainers in the different sports departments within Parks and Recreation have interest in or are skateboarders themselves, Gordon said.

“It’s a win-win,” Gordon said. “We get to do something new the community would like to do and it’s a new program that can hopefully bring people to learn more about what Parks and Rec has to offer.”

The first set of lessons will be from Sept. 12 to Oct. 3 and the second session will be from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14. Gordon said at that point, the program would not resume until spring 2023 due to weather.

“Once we get more of an idea of who’s enrolled, we’ll talk to the kids and parents to see what the level of skaters we have in the community (is),” Gordon said. “Then we’ll figure out what the needs are and we can create what is needed from there.”

Learning how to ride the board, stop it and go up and down on the ramps are among the basic techniques that will be taught. Kids also will learn simple skateboarding tricks.

“I think this will be really fun. We’re all very excited,” Gordon said.

Those who are interested or have questions are encouraged to reach out to Gordon at 785-330-7361 or email


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