"People look at skateboarding as a stereotype of kids who are rebellious and you know, men that just won't grow up. It's a lifestyle, it's a way of life. "
Crys Worley taught her sons how to skateboard from an early age, and it shows. Both of them look like they were born on a board. For her, the skateboarding lifestyle was something important to share with her sons. She saw the value in particular for her youngest son, Sasha, who has autism.
"I placed a skateboard in my son's hand and it was a natural connection. He did great on it and it was something that both my children were actually able to play together."
This sparked an idea for Crys. She realized that other kids with autism might find skateboarding as rewarding as her son did.
She started holding lessons for other kids in the Birmingham area and teaching classes whenever she traveled. She quickly began to see the benefit to both kids and their families. The classes were a chance for kids to learn something new, something that they could be proud of and share with others.
As more people started showing up, she realized there was a demand and founded A.Skate (Austism Skate).
A.Skate is a thriving community that brings together a unique mix of people at skate parks all over Alabama. There are children exploring the exciting new experience of skateboarding, and parents watching as their children learn to skate in a safe and encouraging environment. There are also the expert skaters who teach at the A.Skate sessions, keen to share their passion for skating with the young children.
The work of A.Skate continues even after the seminar ends. Several parks have started regular classes taught by local skaters to benefit neighborhood kids.
"The interaction between the skateboard community and the autism community has been amazing in teaching these typical people, who just kinda live everyday life and skate, about these children and about this disability and learning how to accept others."
A.Skate is a 501c3 nonprofit based out of Alabama. Crys Worley and the A.Skate team travel the country sharing their love of skateboarding with children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disorders. For more information on A.Skate and how you can get involved, visit their website or Facebook page.