According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children in America fall somewhere on the spectrum of autism disorder.
It’s a complex condition that still holds a lot of questions. Children with autism may be prone to different levels of confusion, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, social phobias and face the threat of serious bullying.
That might actually describe a few skateboarders who you know, as well.
Parents are stoked that a group called the Askate Foundation will be hosting events in New Jersey and New York this weekend.
While many autistic children don’t feel a connection to traditional sports, the Askate Foundation is an organization based on the belief that skateboarding is still something of a counterculture and community of individuals, and therefore reaches children with challenges.
As opposed to the structure and pressure of ball sports, skateboarding allows them to roll around, learning on their own terms.
The first event, on Saturday, September 24, will be held at House of Vans in Brooklyn, the Greenpoint warehouse that Vans has turned into a skatepark, film, party, and music venue offering free events year round.
The second event will be hosted by the Asbury Park Skateboard Foundation, the group that has successfully campaigned to get a skatepark built in this famously reborn city by the sea.
This Asbury clinic on Sunday, September 25, will be held at the Asbury Park Carousel Building, where Red Bull will be unveiling a new skate bowl in October.
“Askate has been around since 2008 and we have taken our time growing into what we are today. Like Asbury Park Skateboard Foundation, we are a grassroots organization that takes our time with partnerships to make sure it’s a good fit and we are working with people who are like minded,” says Chrys Worley, Askate founder and mother to a 9-year-old autistic skater named Sasha.
“Askate introduces skateboarding to persons with autism as a form of social and occupational therapies. Children with autism often parallel play or isolate themselves from others. Skateboarding seems to trigger and stimulate the nervous system and parts of the brain that help them focus, use more language, make eye contact, and socialize," she continues.
At Askate Foundation events, parents bring children for an opportunity to learn the basics of skateboarding with the help of volunteers.
And if the child is interested in pursuing skateboarding, the clinic offers children and parents insight to skate etiquette should they want to take their children to their own local park. It's free for the families.
“We connected with the APSF through Derek Rinaldi. I met him at an Askate event at the House of Vans. He’d never been to an Askate event and didn’t know too much about autism at the time. He was super overwhelmed and a bit emotional seeing 80 kids with autism be successful at something he has loved for more than half his life,” Worley explained, “He’s come back over the years to Askate events to be a skate instructor and loved every minute of it!”
Though these events are full, the Askate Foundation also posts events in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, California, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Texas. Worley hopes to get regular clinics going in Asbury. The number of events is based on availability of volunteers … hint, hint.
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