BOX ELDER – Pearl Jam bass player Jeff Ament has helped fund skateboard parks throughout his native Montana, including in Missoula, Polson and Stevensville.
On Sunday, residents of the Rocky Boy Reservation dusted off their skateboards for the opening of the Box Elder Community Skate Park. Evergreen Skateparks and Ament partnered to construct the new skate park.
Some are picking up boards for the first time, which were gifted by Ament himself. Others have been doing it for years and traveled hours to come to the grand opening.
Now, the Rocky Boy Reservation community has a place of their own.
“We don’t have to sit around outside,” said Ayden Amilen, a new skateboarder. “Now we can just come over here any day we want and skate.”
The skate parks built by Ament impact communities throughout Montana.
“It’s rad he’s getting all these parks built. I grew up on a small island in Hawaii with no skate park and we finally got one and it was awesome,” said Michael Carfagna, a skateboarder who traveled from Oregon. “It was nothing like this though. Ours was really bad, so if I had something like this around, I would have been stoked because I probably would’ve been better at skating.”
Ament is no stranger to the state, though. He helped build a skate park in his hometown of Big Sandy. He said these small towns hold a big place in his heart.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for these small communities and I see that some of them are sort of dying,” said Ament. “I sort of feel like if you put skate parks and help with some of the infrastructure of these small towns, eventually people will start coming back to these small towns because it’s such a great place to raise a family.”
And each park built inspires those already living in these small communities.
Ament has also helped put skate parks in Browning, Havre, Hays and Malta.