No skateboarding allowed on campus – unless it’s for a good cause. Two nonprofits joined forces at E.V. Cain STEM Charter Middle School on Wednesday to spread a message of anti-bullying and awareness for Down syndrome.
The event began with an outdoor skateboarding demonstration by several young men who participate in SkateMD, a nonprofit co-founded by E.V. Cain mom, Andrea Bibelheimer. Participants showed students how to ollie, kickflip and grind. The goal of SkateMD is to share skateboarding with children who have developmental, physical, emotional or family challenges.
One of those children is Malachi Haskin, a young man with Down syndrome. Haskin recently attended a SkateMD clinic and was mentored by Miles Blackman, a seventh-grade student at E.V. Cain.
After taking a few turns catching air, Blackman helped Haskin skate across the half pipe while students cheered for them.
After the demonstration, Haskin’s mother, Heather Haskin, shared some statistics about Down syndrome with the students:
∙ Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial copy of chromosome 21.
∙ It is the most common chromosomal disease, affecting one in every 691 babies.
∙ About 400,000 people are living with Down syndrome in the U.S.
Heather Haskin went on to ask students if they like to swim, ride skateboards or eat ice cream, and then pointed out that people with Down syndrome like to do those things, too.
“You have more in common than not,” she said.
She reminded them that they also have those things in common with each other.
The assembly may have ended Wednesday afternoon, but the middle school students will continue to be encouraged to participate in random acts of kindness for the remainder of October.
“Have lunch with someone who’s disabled,” Heather Haskin said, “or someone new, or someone who’s sitting alone.”
Ben Panasyuk, a seventh-grade student, said the assembly brought to life a novel he read in language arts class titled, “Out of My Mind.” It’s the story of a very bright girl who isn’t able to communicate what she’s thinking because she has cerebral palsy. Even her parents struggle to understand her. He could see how other disabilities might affect people in similar ways.
“I also want to get a skateboard,” he said, gesturing toward the skaters whizzing by him. “This is really persuading me.”
Reach Tricia Caspers at email@example.com