PALMDALE – Dozens of local children with autism became skateboarders for a day on Saturday at the first ever A.skate clinic in the Antelope Valley.
A.skate Foundation is a non-profit that organizes autism-friendly skateboard clinics to teach the basic skills of skateboarding to participants in an environment that is appropriate to their sensory needs.
“We travel all across the United States, and we’re actually international,” said Elisa Swan, coordinator for the A.skate Foundation. “The way A.skate events get brought to your city is through fundraising, and a local mom here that has a child with autism raised money for us to come out and put on this event.”
Local mom Jennifer Slater-Sanchez said she worked hard to bring the A.skate event to Palmdale in order to provide a fun outlet for special needs families. She said she was overwhelmed by the positive response.
“It’s just been a very warm reception from the Antelope Valley,” Slater-Sanchez said. ”Our community is wonderful, and this is why I’ve always been proud to live in the Antelope Valley because it’s just a great place where people are very supportive of each other.”
The clinic kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Marie Kerr Park and ran until noon.
“Each child gets a one-on-one instruction and they just learn the basics and fundamentals of skateboarding,” Swan said. “Some of them don’t like to stand on the skateboards and will sit on their bottoms because they like the rolling motion. We just want to show them a good time.”
Some participants were hesitant at first, and there were even a few tumbles.
“I about had a heart attack when he stumbled and just about landed head first off the board,” said Lancaster resident Melanie Rhoda about her 10-year-old son, Robert.
Within the first hour, Robert and many other participants were having the time of their lives, with the help of more than 30 volunteers.
“This is fantastic!” exclaimed Lancaster resident Phyllis Kegel as she snapped photos of 5-year-old Logan on a skateboard. “I love seeing him try new things, and for an autistic child, that’s not easy to do,” Kegel continued.
The event was a raging success, organizers said. That’s why plans are already underway for another local autism friendly skateboard event this spring.
To get an early start in supporting this worthwhile cause, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/AskateAVSpring2014/fundraiser/jenniferslatersanche.
For more pictures from this event, visit our Facebook page.