Milford’s AJJ Foundation aims to improve namesake’s skate park

MILFORD — Alexander Jordan Jamieson had a passion for skateboarding. He loved everything about it, but what he may have loved most was helping someone practice a new trick or helping beginners learn to skate.

That’s why earlier this year, when Brandon LaFavor approached William Jamieson Jr., Alexander’s brother, for help improving the Milford skate park, William jumped at the opportunity.

“His idea was that he wanted to see a mini ramp be installed at the park, and it is largely utilized by the younger skaters or entry-level skaters to start working going up and down the ramp for tricks,” said Jamieson. “The senior skaters love it as well for their tricks, so it’s an all-inclusive feature at the skate park for all skaters.”

When Alexander Jamieson died by suicide in 2019 at age 22, William formed the Alexander Jordan Jamieson (AJJ) Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to fight depression and suicide and de-stigmatize the conversations around mental health through music.

William, who took up skating himself after his brother’s death, said the main bowl at the Milford skate park, which the city renamed for Alex in 2019, is too challenging for younger skaters. So he hopes to donate a mini ramp through the AJJ Foundation.

“The phrase that was being thrown around at the AJJ Foundation meeting was a ‘no-brainer,’” said Jamieson.

Toward that end, Jamieson and LaFavor recently met with state Sen. James Maroney’s team to talk about the project. The meeting went well, Jamieson said.

“Where we are at now is that I spoke to Justin (Rosen, city chief of staff), and he was going to be researching with the legal team any hiccups for us to donate the mini ramp,” Jamieson said.

Rosen said the Milford Recreation Department, which manages the skate park, is currently reviewing the request to donate the mini ramp.

What cemented the decision to improve the skate park was when a doctor at Milford Pediatric Group told Jamieson a story about Alex while he was at the skate park with his son.

“His son was about 10-years-old at the time, and his son was out at the skate park trying to learn a new trick, and he kept falling,” Jamieson said. “He saw this young kid, who was about five years older than his son, goes walking over to his son and starts talking to him, and he realized it was Alex.”

The doctor continued Alex spent about 20 minutes working with his son on the trick.

“And the kid tried it a couple of times, and Alex went over, tweaked what he was doing, and the kid nailed the trick,” Jamieson said. “He told me that it spoke volumes to him that my little brother was willing to go over and help a total stranger who was much younger than him.”

As they talked about how to fund the improvements at the park, one of Jamieson’s friends put him in touch with Dave Peterson, owner of Rampage skate shop, who said he knew who his brother was because Alex was a frequent visitor to the shop.

“He would hang out at my skate shop in Bridgeport all of the time with a couple of his friends,” said Peterson. “I have a little skate park in my parking lot, and he would be there with his friends.”

When Jamieson reached out to Peterson, Peterson told him he would be happy to donate the labor and time if the foundation would cover the cost of the material.

“I told him that I have the equipment to build skate parks and that I would do it at cost or what it would cost me to do the mini ramp,” said Peterson. “We would work with volunteers to do the setup to get it ready, and when we pour the concrete, we will use professionals to pour and shape it.”

Several other organizations have also stepped up to help with the funding the mini ramp, said Jamieson.

When the new mini ramp finally becomes part of the skate park, it will be a great feeling for foundation members and Alex’s friends and family, Jamieson said.

“A lot of Alex’s family and friends say they feel close to him when they go to the skate park,” he said. “I’ll go to the park and just watch kids skate, or it’ll be empty and look at the park and remember and envision my brother skateboarding there.”