Originally from East Providence, now-retired BMX rider Kevin Robinson (aka K-Rob) has accomplished a lot throughout his career. He’s won four gold medals in the X Games, has broken records in the sport – including an 84-foot backflip he landed in Providence this past August – and continues to build up his list of projects, from running an athletic protective gear company to bringing awareness to bullying prevention.
But recently, K-Rob has come full-circle with a new skatepark in his hometown, thanks to his family-run non-profit, the K-Rob Foundation. According to its Facebook page, the organization’s mission is to help the children of East Providence stay involved in sports.
The nearly 9,000-square-foot skatepark is part of the City of East Providence’s improvement plan for the Onna Moniz-John Neighborhood Park and Central Avenue Playground. “Not every kid is a stick-and-ball kid,” says Barrington resident K-Rob. “I wasn’t. Not every kid wants to play baseball or basketball. Some kids want to ride bikes, skateboards or scooters. And I want to be able to give them that outlet. There are basketball courts, baseball fields and football fields all over the place. But there are rarely any skateparks.”
Without these outlets, it’s common for kids to practice on ledges and other structures that just so happen to be built around businesses, which can make businesses mad. This, in part, is why skateboarders and BMXers get a bad rap. “There’s a misconception with action sports,” says K-Rob. “Everybody associates all skateboarders and BMXers with being punks and troublemakers, and it’s so not the case. They may dress a little different, they may make a few different choices, but they’re really good kids and they just want to be on their bikes and skateboards.”
A three-year labor of love, the skatepark was built with the help of John Saxton, a professional ramp builder of Skidmark Parks. “A lot of towns will put up a skatepark, but they hire a contractor who really doesn’t understand ramps, and that makes a huge difference,” says K-Rob.
Another component that most towns don’t consider is safety. “They spend money on a park and think ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ and put the park somewhere where nobody can see it. And they wonder why trouble happens. You need a place where there’s a lot of interaction and where there’s adults,” says K-Rob. “This has been phenomenal.”
Onna Moniz-John Park, Blanding Avenue, East Providence. KRobFoundation.org