ATCHISON, Kan. — In 2018, a 17-year-old Joshua Kinsman took his life. Still, his parents wanted to complete one of his dreams.
Pamela Cline and Jeremy Watkins found a letter Kinsman wrote when he was 15-years-old, a glimpse into what their teenager really wanted in Atchison — a skate park.
“It’s very emotional. There’s happiness and joy and peace,” Pamela Cline said. “He was fearless, I think a lot of people who skateboard are fearless.”
Jumping stairs or grinding rails, Kinsman’s parents say he’d ask why couldn’t Atchison have more?
“I didn’t know it was a thing until we found that letter,” Kinsman's parent said. “I think he thought about it more than we realized.”
Kinsman's parents sent a letter to city leaders who could make his idea happen.
“With everything going on we just had to be the ones that finish his dream for him,” Watkins said.
Nearly four years later, his parents say their son's dream turned into a place for community dreams at Atchison Skate Park near N 10th St & Riley Street.
They say it was made possible by $200,000 in community fundraising and a $75,000 match from the City of Atchison.
“Every time he went to the skate park, he was totally happy all the other kids were happy,” Cline said. “We just want that for Atchison.”
They hope this place can bring teens a future, a sense of belonging, safety and a place to set goals.
“We just want to give them something to look forward to,” Kinsman's parents said. “If it’s just going to a park after school to relieve some stress on a skateboard- then so be it. If it just changes one little kid's life then that’s a positive and that’s what we are aiming for."
They’ll continue to build on that dream with two more phases. Their goal is to continue the work next year, which could include a bowl, tunnel, and another area for smaller kids.
The plan can be viewed below:
The grand opening for Atchison Skate Park is on Oct. 9, at 11 a.m. There will be ribbon-cutting, bar-be-cue and other kid’s activities.
Those who would like to donate to the Joshua Kinsman foundation can do so at the Bank of Atchison Kansas, USB Bank, or at this link.