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Colorado Outreach Pt 2: Out & About x Skate.Now

It was the first full day of our Colorado Outreach Trip, I was extremely nervous. I had made plans to host a therapeutic skateboard clinic with Out & About, a Boulder non-profit organization providing support for children and adults with developmental disabilities. I was informed there were going to be about 30 children ages 7-18 accompanied with an assistant from the Out & About program.I thought to myself, great, how am I, one person, going to put on a skate clinic for 60 something people at a skatepark I've never been to, with only 7 skateboards.

I had flown in to Denver the previous day and I was staying at my cousin, Craig's, house. I had brought 4 skateboards with me on the plane total, I squeezed 3 in my checked bag and carried on the fourth. After I landed, Craig and I drove to several skate shops and sporting good stores in search of helmets for cheap. After a couple failed attempts we hit the helmet jackpot, it was a re-sale sporting goods shop. I walked out with 5 helmets for only $17. Two of them were quality skateboard helmets, the third was a bike helmet and the other two were baseball helmets, I didn't really care if they looked cool, they just had to protect a kid's head if they fell. Luckily for me Craig let me borrow his skateboard and his long board for the clinic, we got the seventh board for one of Craig's neighbor. I was as prepared as I was going to get.

I tried to get to sleep early that night because the clinic was at 9am but I was really nervous. I had taught skateboard clinics before but never one this size completely on my own.

It was 8am, Monday July 10, I loaded up Craig's Subaru with the boards and helmets, I dropped Craig off at work and then drove 30 minutes to Lafayette Skatepark, a small Colorado town on the outskirts of Boulder. There I met Bridget, the counselor I coordinated the event with, and the rest of the Out & About crew started to pour in in small groups.

This gave me the idea to conduct the clinic by breaking up the big group of 30 into smaller groups of 4 or 5. Our first group arrived and they were so eager to skate, Chase, age 8, tried jumping on the board before the session even started. I took the first group into the park to begin our skate session.

It was Kate, Ayla, Tyler, and Chase, (pictured below, left to right). I started the session by talking about the different types of skateboards, the ones for tricks, the long board and the cruiser. I taught the basics on how to push then worked one on one with each kid, helping them stand on the board and pushing them back and fourth. When they got comfortable on the board I took them down a 2 foot bank ramp, holding on to them tight assuring them they wouldn't fall. Chase was a natural and actually ended up going down the ramp by himself after a few tries.

I repeated this process over and over for each group that poured in. Most of which loved it, some of which were very hesitant to try but after a little coaxing from their assistants and myself, almost all 30 group members participated in some way. Even the kids who didn't stand on the board had fun pushing it back and fourth on flat ground.

Flip flops may not have been the best choice of footwear for cruising the skatepark but it did not stop Emily from conquering the bank ramp.

It was hot and after the second or third group I was sweating my face off. Then it came time for the kids with impaired mobility, since they couldn't stand on a skateboard I didn't want them to feel excluded. So I took. out the longboard and put it under one girl's chair and pushed her around the park, taking her in the bowl and helping her carve around the corners. The board was long enough for me to stand on the back and steer. You could tell by the smile on her face she was having a blast.

After almost every kid tried out skateboarding it was time to put on a little demo, I zipped back and forth throughout the park and did a few tricks here and there. The crowd cheered me on and their energy inspired me to skate harder despite the heat.

After 2 in the park the clinic was wrapping up, I passed out stickers for everyone and some of the kids even wanted to skate for a second. We then took a group photo and shortly after I headed to the Out & About headquarters for an interview about the event!

Looking back it's funny to think that I was so nervous for an event that had such an incredible turnout, I wouldn't have believed the day before that this clinic would be so successful! Starting off the Colorado Outreach trip with such a positive experience really built up my confidence for 6 more the skate clinics yet to come.

Now that our first therapeutic skate clinic was complete it was time to pick up Madison and Kenny from the Denver airport and start filming our documentary... (continued in Pt. 3)

Chase applies victory stickers after successfully riding down the bank ramp solo.

Group photo with the whole Out & About Crew!

 

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