A.skate Foundation providing vision and hope through skateboarding.
ASN recently caught up with Crys Worley, one of the founders of A.skate Foundation. Here is the behind the scenes look at the A.skate Foundation and how they are empowering kids with Autism through the sport of skateboarding.
What is the mission of A.skate?
= Autism: Skating with Kids through Acceptance Therapy and Education. Our vision is to grow the organization and introduce skateboarding to children with autism while also introducing autism to the world of skateboarding.
How did you start/get involved with this non-profit?
I started the idea of A.skate
a few years ago, but not as an organization. Locally we would get together with friends and friends of friends who all had children on the autism spectrum and hold small skate sessions with our kids. It was more like play dates for the parents and kids. We had friends in Knoxville, TN that we would travel to and do the same. After a couple of months passed we started getting e-mails and calls asking if we were the people who held skate clinics for kids with autism and would we contact them if we were ever in their area.
One fall I attended a surf camp in North Carolina with Sasha, my son, and met up with John Pike, Eastern Skate sales rep, who also has a son with autism. He has been Peter’s (Karvonen, A.skate co-founder) sales rep at Faith Skate Supplies for 15 years, but we never knew the connection. I told him what was going on and that maybe we needed to look into doing something more throughout the Southeast. John and I vowed to work on this as a project, but organically it turned into much more!
After seeing the benefits my son was receiving from skating and the overwhelming amount of requests from people I didn’t know asking to "hold skate clinics" in their area, it all made sense. The more I saw how other children responded to skating and how excited the parents were to see their child do something that most would think they are incapable of doing, the more I wanted to charge at it! John Pike was the same way. He works in the skate and surf industry, and both have really had a positive effect on his son as well. Together we just had to make it happen.
Currently, Peter, John and I work hard getting connections for help, fundraising, and awareness. Peter and I travel and hold the clinics throughout the year and often bring locals from Birmingham, AL, who work with us a lot in the Southeast, to help when we go as far as CA and NY. We do rely on volunteers from core skate shops in the areas we travel to for additional help.
All about the love.
What kinds of activities do you do?
Many kids with autism struggle with socialization, language, OCD, anxiety, sensory disorder, and a list of medical issues a mile long. A short answer is that skateboarding helps diminish some of those issues. My son can be social sometimes, but it’s usually inappropriate compared to what society thinks is "normal," and he is now starting to understand when he is being made fun of or not being accepted. My son has trouble at school with outbursts and meltdowns, and has ran away from school when he was scared. His peers pay close attention to him, and the older he gets, the harder peers and general society is on him.
Autism will affect him for the rest of his life and as he gets older I think it is important for him to have something to rely on that helps him with his struggles. That something is skateboarding. He can rip solo, be on his own, and not worry about what’s going on around him. It’s his self-therapy.
For years I have turned in my annual IRA savings, used my income tax returns, and monthly income to fund clinics and keep A.skate running. We are finally starting to receive a little bit of funding that helps support the small clinics.
What are some upcoming events or announcements for A.skate?
This year we have had a couple of exciting partnerships. Our first partnership was with Zoo York. We had a collaboration deck that was designed by a local NYC artist who has a relative with autism. So far it has been a really successful partnership and we are very lucky to have ZY’s team on our side! Later this year we have a collaboration Bones wheel coming out. We are very excited to see the response once it launches. As far as clinics, we have had many across the country to date and have many more planned. We will be heading back to NJ, NY, CA, GA, TN, AL and a few new spots too: OK, PA, FL, and Cork, Ireland. Later this year we will be working with Jenny McCarthy’s organization, Generation Rescue, to have a "back to school" clinic and fundraiser benefiting both of our organizations. We plan to make that a really huge successful event!
Crys and her son Sasha.
How can people support the A.skate or get involved themselves?
People can support A.skate
in so many ways! The fast/easy route would be to go to our website and make a donation, or purchase some threads. Other ways would be by helping us organize fundraisers and partner with us to help spread awareness. We are always in need of volunteers, people helping us find people to donate food and materials for clinics, and so much more. We really encourage people to contact their local skate core shops and purchase our collaboration products. If they do not carry our products, ask them to get in touch with us!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I think that our goal for what we could change in this world is happening now and real. We simply want to bring a sport to the autism community that they can use as a tool for self therapy as they get older. For now it’s just focused on getting the kids on boards to have fun and get better. But as these kids get older, they will realize that they have been given a life-long asset to rely on when they are going through a difficult time–which can be on a daily basis for a lot of our kids.
A.skate introducing skateboarding to a kid who might never have known the feeling we all love.
Do you have any favorite action sports shops or businesses in your area?
We have people working with A.skate spread out over the country, so there’s lots of love to share. In our hometown areas the shops that support us are Faith Skate Suppl
y in Birmingham, AL and Jokers Skateshop
in Huntington Beach, CA. NJ Skate
in New Jersey works hard to keep our momentum going in the Northeast too.
Tell us about your secret other life…
My secret other life…. I’m a full time mom of course but I also work in the dental field as an orthodontic assistant. I went to college for computers but became very bored with that as I worked in the field, it wasn’t hands on enough for me. I’m inspired by how my family has strengthened through our challenges, and I’m glad to be giving back in a special way.
Help A.skate Foundation receive a grant by voting for them HERE. Every vote helps get them closer to their grant!!!