Skateboarding Lessons & STEM Learning at Houghton Skatepark

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Photo Courtesy of Spohn Ranch Skatepark Designers & Builders

Free skateboard lessons are coming soon to the Houghton MI Skatepark. The Portage Lake District Library (PLDL) is launching a new program, Rad Academy, which includes drop-in skateboard instruction and related events at Houghton’s waterfront skatepark.

The program capitalizes on 35 years of skateboarding experience between PLDL Library Director Dillon Geshel and Rabbit Island Foundation Director Andrew Ranville, and provides skateboard instruction and project-based STEM activities related to action sports culture.

“I’ve been skating since I was a teenager, and the culture surrounding skateboarding really shaped who I am as an individual,” Said Library Director Dillon Geshel. “For students not as interested in organized sports or other school-based extracurricular activities, skateboarding can be a great recreational activity. We want to share the many positive elements of skate culture with a new generation of local kids.”

Local youth ages 9 – 12 can attend drop-in skateboarding lessons on Thursdays, 4pm – 6pm and Saturdays, 9am – 11am between August 19 and September 11. Skateboarding equipment is made available on a first-come, first-served basis. Snacks and refreshments will also be provided.

While participation in the program is limited, some accompanying STEM events will be open to all community members. “One of our Rad Academy events will include an outdoor physics demonstration, and that’s something we’ll be inviting the whole community to attend,” Said Geshel. “Other STEM activities will be geared specifically towards students participating in skate instruction, such as photography and graphic design workshops.” More information on accompanying events will be made available in the near future.

By the end of the program, select student participants will also have the opportunity to use their new skills to design and press their own skateboard deck in collaboration with Gnarlywood, a California-based skateboard manufacturer with ties to the Houghton area.

Generous support from the Portage Health Auxiliary provided funding for the purchase of six skateboards, accompanying pads and helmets, and more. Rhythm Bike & Board also provided generous discounts on equipment that helped make the program possible.

Parents or guardians will need to sign a waiver of liability for their children to participate, which will be available onsite at each event. Library programs are free and open to all. For more information on Rad Academy and other events, contact the library at 906-482-4570 or via email at

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