Music blared and families were everywhere with their children eagerly awaiting their turn to hop on a skateboard at the Askate skateboarding event at the Vans Showdown in Parc de la Vilette on August 31.
After speaking with founder Crys Worley, Autism Newscast reporter, Alix Strickland, headed to the Parc de la Vilette Vans showroom to meet Worley and see an Askate event in action herself.
Worley’s company, Askate, organizes what she calls skateboard clinics around America; helping children with autism address sensory issues through skateboarding.
“Skateboarding helps us work with the kids on vestibular, proprioceptive, and motor skills as well as social skills”
According to Worley, planning for a skateboard clinic in Paris was challenging.
“We were so excited for this opportunity and immediately started networking and reaching out to Autism organizations in Paris. There were language barriers that we had to overcome which made it difficult to network our event to the local autism community. Through social networking, Facebook, twitter, emails to the autism community in Paris, we were eventually able to touch base with an ABA therapist as well as a local parent who helped break the language barrier and was able to invite families of children with autism to the event.”
Presenting the skateboarding clinic in a different country with a different crowd of families was a new adventure but Worley was delighted with the response of the families to the event.
“The response we received from the French families was exactly what we receive in the States. The parents are so excited to see their children accomplish something that many say is impossible or « too hard » for their children to do. A father of one of the participants joined in helping the instructor run around the skatepark with his son and recognized a new bond that they can share forever.”
The Askate event in Paris was such a success, that the organization would like to organize other events in Paris and around Europe. There is already a branch of Askate in Cork, Ireland that has been running for two years and is going strong. Worley enthuses: “my vision for France is to find that same type of support and dedication within the community to help make this happen for the children there”.
When asked to share a favorite Askate memory, Worley describes:
“I will never forget a family from California who had become regulars at our events in their area. When this family first attended one of our events they were optimistic but encouraging. They didn’t expect skateboarding to have the kind of impact that it had for their entire family. Their son was 14 and had little communication skills. He lived in an assistance program near his family’s home and they saw him every single day. His mom and dad would go eat dinner with him, take him places, and do everything that a parent should do with their child. He spent the night with his family many nights a week although he lived in this assistant living home.
“At his first Askate event he stood on the skateboard with his instructor very nervous but seemed to want to try it. He kept pointing and smiling and jumping up and down. He would wave his hands and arms around laughing and would step back on the skateboard letting his instructor know that he wanted more. He was flying up and down the transitions of the ramps by the end of the clinic, holding his instructors hands and loving every second of it. The father of this child was in tears. Months later this family attended another event of ours in their area.
“The family updated us on their sons progress and said that the dad would pick him up and take him to the local skatepark near their homes 3 days a week. Although the child may never be able to independently ride a skateboard that was not a concern. The point was that this father had found a common bond with his son that took 14 years to find. This father found a bond aside from nurturing, feeding, dressing, loving, and taking care of, they found a real common bond to share and enjoy together. It has been 2.5 years since they first attended an Askate event and the father is still taking his son to skateparks, holding his hands, and sharing their love of skateboarding together. “
Next up for Askate ? A year long fundraiser called Kickpush 2014. The goal of the fundraiser is to help Askate raise funds
“to expand in more parts of Europe and the UK. We are hoping that by next Summer we will be able to schedule a tour throughout different parts of Europe in order … establish our program in these new areas.”
Check out the website at www.kickpush2014.com for more information.
Worley is understanding and enthusiastic and uses her energy to make families feel welcome and happy at the skateboarding clinics. The thrill of skateboarding delights the children while helping them work through some of their sensory sensitivities. A wonderful combination and a day of memorable family fun.