A Park With A Pulse
By Chad Brewer
In the vast world of recreation, the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC) in Louisiana leads the pack in new and innovative ways to help the community remain active. Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for adolescents between 12 and 19 years old, and it has more than tripled for children ages 6 to 11 years old, according to Stop Childhood Obesity. Louisiana proves to be at the top of the charts in childhood obesity. Modern lifestyles for children are not motivating them to participate in physical activities and exercise, partly because a new age of influential media culture, especially television and video games.
To assist in getting residents up and moving, Perkins Road Community Park is home to the Extreme Sports Park which includes many new recreational opportunities that are not provided anywhere else in the system. It is the parish’s most visited park. Amenities include a new skate park, rock climbing wall, a sand volleyball court, velodrome, BMX track, football stadium, baseball fields, and tennis courts.
The park is so popular that national pro-skating tours use it for events, such as a stop on the RAT Tour (Regional Amateur Tour) in March. More than 800 people visited the park for the skateboard competitions.
With its “Helmet for a Promise” program, BREC gave away free S-One helmets to more than 60 skaters and bikers. While helmets are not required to use the park, officials partnered with Blue Cross and the Ian Tilmann Foundation to offer the program, which provides helmets to youth in return for a promise to always wear them when skating.
The BMX track offers USABMX races every Saturday and features open riding during the week. The most popular event is the Saturday Shred. This monthly event for the BMX, skateboarding and rock climbing community, takes place the second Saturday of every month and features live bands, demos and contests. It is free and open to the public.
The Extreme Sports Park offers classes such as BMX 101, Freestyle BMX 101, Rock Climbing and Skateboard Clinics. Skate camps and BMX camps are held during the summer months and seasonal holiday camps are held during school holidays for children.