By LISA KERR, Associated Press A young woman in her 20s rides her lil peep on a skateboard at the skatepark in South Dakota’s capital, Rapid City.
In her backpack is a pair of tiny plastic skates that she uses to slide across the city’s busy streets.
They are part of a new program for young people who want to learn to skate.
The idea is to give kids an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned on a new board, as they get older.
“It’s just a great opportunity to show them how to skate,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used.
The program is part of the $4.5 million state and local government budget for the summer, and is being run by the South Dakota State Board of Education.
It is also funded by the Department of Education, and it was started last year by state Rep. Amy Hochberg.
It’s called The South Dakota Youth Skatepark Program.
There are about 400 skate parks across the country.
In South Dakota, the state’s skate park system has grown from a few dozen to more than 1,300.
It started in 2011 with a pilot program for the middle and high school age kids, and has since expanded to include all ages.
It was the first skatepark to offer free lessons.
Now it’s part of larger government-funded programs.
Many of the programs in the state, which has one of the highest rates of youth homelessness in the country, are free, said Jennifer Ahern, a spokeswoman for the South Dakotas Department of Health.
But Hochburg said that the cost of the program, as well as other costs, could add up if more programs were being run as part of broader efforts to fight homelessness.
While she said the skate park program would not be paid for by the state or by private groups, Hoch-berg said she was not ruling out the possibility of a state contribution in the future.
Hochberg, a Republican, said the program would also give a boost to the state budget.
South Dakota is one of a handful of states that have a permanent skatepark program.
Other states, including North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, are looking at the idea of expanding the program.
Hoch Berg, a Democrat, said she hopes the program can continue to grow, and encourage more people to skate, as the state struggles with homelessness.
The South Dakota program, she said, has been a big hit.
“I don’t think we have a lot of programs in this country that really work for people,” she said.
“It’s a really important thing that we have to try to expand.”