In operation since 2009, The Inside has seen many youth and volunteers come and go, and yet our mission to be a light within our community remains one and the same. Our story speaks to a legacy of amazing provision and grand adventure as we’ve served faithfully within our community. We believe that God has led us, provided for us, and continues to give our service purpose all along the way. Feel free to click here to hear more about our mission, vision, and statement of faith.
In 2009, Josh Poffenroth saw a need for youth mentorship and belonging within the small community of Cochrane, Alberta. Partnering with other local community members, Josh began running a small weekly drop-in for youth out of the local Boy’s and Girls club. One night as Josh drove past the skatepark on his way home, he felt a burden on his heart for the many youth who attended the park on a regular.
Through mutual connections, Josh met Levi Switzer, a local skateboarder who had a heart for youth. Together, they began hosting weekly community meals at the skatepark, organizing community volunteering days, and large annual skateboard youth camping trips with the many youth from town over the course of the winter. However, fall quickly came around.
Winters are tough in Canada, especially for a skateboarder. It so happened that Levi’s home church was undergoing renovations, and had given them the ok to build a small wooden indoor skatepark in the concrete-floor foyer; soon enough, The Inside began hosting skateboard nights in the church, drawing youth from many of the nearby communities. As a group, The Inside dreamed of ways they could take on a large scale service project. Working closely with the Medicine Hat Skateboard Association in the summer of 2012, they decided to serve by building homes down in Mexico, in partnership with Element Skateboards. Fundraising via bottle drives and community projects, the group raised the needed funds, and the vision for the trip materialized! The summer of 2012 was a whirlwind of camping trips and retreats, and soon enough, it was winter again.
The church had finished renovations, and it was no longer open to skateboarding indoors. Instead, Josh quickly built a mini-ramp in his small suburban one-car garage, and sent out the invitation for youth to come over for dinner and a warm skateboard session one night a week. Youth packed around the dinner table and the mini-ramp deck each week, sharing time together, as family, away from the cold.
The legacy of “family dinner” skateboard nights and summer camping trips continues to grow and expand, and has seen a couple of generations of skateboarders come and pass. From 2013 onward, we’ve witnessed the gracious provision of a 13,000 sq. ft fabrication shop for an indoor youth-outreach skatepark for a winter, along with many other blessings. We’ve been given the opportunity to set up skateparks and serve at music festivals and in youth prison, and believe these opportunities will only continue to grow.
Would you like to be part of our ongoing story? Click here to learn about ways that you can partner with us in serving our community.