FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 28, 2014) -- The Fort Rucker Youth Center added a skate park to its ever-increasing offering of activities for the installation's youth March 24.

One of the most anticipated additions to the Fort Rucker Youth Center, the child, youth and school services skate park welcomed its first skaters with multiple ramps and rails during the grand opening event, but it was safety first before children set their skateboards on the concrete, according Davona Vell, facility director at the youth center.

"We've seen youth skating all over post, at the commissary and everywhere, so we wanted to be able to provide them an environment where they could come out, be safe and enjoy skating," she said. "We contacted our safety officer to make sure we were covering all grounds when it comes to safety because it's really important for (the children) to know that they need to wear helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and especially, wrist guards when they skate."

During the event, people were able to enjoy games, door prizes, and free hotdogs and hamburgers, as well as complimentary water and sports drinks for skaters who were working up a sweat.

Zachary Francis and Izak Lucero, Army Family members, were among the first to try out the skate park's amenities, and said they were happy to have a place to skate without worry.

"I really like it, and I think it's good because it's something for us to do around here and there isn't really any place that we can skate without getting in trouble," said Francis.

"There are no skate parks in the area, so it's awesome that we get to have one right here (at the teen center)," added Lucero.

Both teens said they would build their own ramps and rails to skate on, but having the skate park so close to their housing areas makes it easier for them to skate safely and work on their skills.

"I've been skating for almost a year now and it's just something fun I like to do that gets me outside," said Francis. "It gets the adrenaline flowing, especially when you start learning how to do the harder stuff. You get that good feeling when you learn a new trick."

"It's something else to do rather than staying in playing video games all day," Lucero added.

Vell said when planning the park and putting all of the components together, they wanted to make sure they were getting things right, so they asked Brian Smith, owner of Brian's Skate Shop in Ozark, to come and give his input.

"They asked me to come down to make sure the equipment was safe, so I came down to check it out and test everything," said Smith. "I also came to help with the kids and teach them if they want. I'm always down to help people learn how to skate, or help them get better at what they already do.

"I think this skate park is great," he continued. "(The children) need something like this around here. It's the only skate park or any place that the kids can come skate at, legally. The closest places would be Panama City Beach to the south or Montgomery to the north."

The skate park includes quarter pikes, a fun box, ramps and grinding rails, and Vell said the components of the park can be moved around to fit how the youth want the park to be set up.

"The children will be able to move it around as they see fit," she said. "We want to let them decide how they want it because this is their skate park, so we want to let them make that decision."

Each piece of equipment can be attached or hooked together to create different obstacles, creating an ever-changing park, but no matter the obstacles, safety will always be the top priority for the children, said Vell, adding that supervision is always available at the skate park during operating hours.

The skate park is open Mondays-Fridays from 4-9 p.m. when schools are in session, and 3:30-9:30 p.m. when not, and Saturdays from 1-7:30 p.m.

Usage of the skate park is limited to registered CYSS members in grades six-12 only, and safety gear must be worn at all times while skating.

For more information, call 255-2260.