This article was originally published on March 31, 2014.
At 20 years of age Ben Kennedy understands how fortunate he is to have a place he can call home.
On any given night in Australia there are over 105,000 Australians who have nowhere to call home – nearly half are aged around Kennedy’s age; a statistic the skilled skateboarder acknowledges.
“The reality is 100,000 Australians don’t have a home to go to each night and I’m lucky enough I do have a place called home,” Kennedy said.
Having grown up in Adelaide and then moved to Melbourne after being drafted to Collingwood in 2012, Kennedy knows first-hand the importance of having a connection to something that reminds him of home.
“My old man used to drop me off on his way to work in the morning and I would skate flat out until he came and picked me up later that afternoon or night.”
“I had some awesome mates back then and we used to always just skate and always push each other to do hard tricks and I suppose it’s just some of the funnest times I’ve had in my life; skating.”
As part of the Channel 7 @home series, screened on Saturday nights, which supports the players’ official charity, Ladder, these exclusive segments provide an insight into the importance of having a strong connection to where, what or who players consider ‘home’, while also highlighting the significant work of Ladder, who help young people who have experienced homelessness realise their hopes, dreams and aspirations in order for them to find a home of their own.
“It’s just freedom, it’s just you and the board” – Ben Kennedy
Last week Kennedy invited us to Prahran Skate Park, a place which provides the young midfielder with positive memories.
“I feel most at home here just because it brings back memories of my childhood; skating with my friends and my two brothers as well.”
Displaying an appreciation for where and what Kennedy considers ‘home’, he also highlights the importance of having a balanced lifestyle away from football.
“I don’t mind having a roll around in the footy season I guess, which just sort of releases you, you forgot about the stresses that you have. It’s just freedom, it’s just you and the board.”
I think you can get pretty caught up in life sometimes, so I think it’s import to have something you like doing or a hobby that you have just so you can just forget about it and have some time to yourself.
You can just do whatever you want, and roll around and it’s just a great feeling, it’s something I’ve loved and hold very dear to me.”
AFL players are proud to support Ladder; every time a player runs out onto the field for his team, he donates $25 to Ladder.