On October 23rd, Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) held its first ever beginner skateboarding clinic for blind and visually impaired youth at the Adidas Training Facility in Portland, Oregon. This event was a collaboration between NWABA and a group of professional skaters and industry organizations including Dan Mancina—who is a blind skateboarder on the Adidas team—Adidas, Keep Pushing Inc., Academy Skateboard Collective, REAL Skateboards and Pro-Tec helmets.
Everyone who participated had a blast! The day started with each athlete learning how to build their own skateboards with help from the pros. Once they had skateboards in hand, all the athletes were taught basic skills as how to stand and balance, push, roll and bump boards in a controlled and safe environment.
The skill levels varied throughout the group of athletes but by the end of the day, those who had never skated before were rolling across the floor with confidence, and a few with previous skating experience were skating up halfpipes with a sense of pride and exuberance. At the end of the event, each participant took home their own boards, helmets, shoes, a Spitfire skate tool and a shirt.
Dan lost his vision at the age of 23 and was already an avid skateboarder. After his vision loss, resilience took over and he taught himself to relearn tricks and continue participating in the activity he loved. “It kind of is my goal to share my love and passion for skateboarding and do my part to introduce kids to everything they possibly can,” says Dan. “As a blind athlete people are easily impressed when you are able to do the basics but imagine what they will say when you push yourself further. Never limit yourselves to what other people think you are able to do.”
NWABA’s program team members checked in with the athletes about a week after the event and several had already been to their local skateparks to practice their newfound skills on their own.
This event was such a success that NWABA is already in discussions to collaborate again and host similar skateboarding events in other growth areas, so that even more youth who are blind and visually impaired can have this incredible experience.