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Calgary skateboard clinic helps kids with autism and Asperger's have fun, gain confidence

Participants learn the basics of the sport while building friendships.

Zev Klymochko and the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts helps put on the clinics.

Jeremy Simes / For Metro

Zev Klymochko and the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts helps put on the clinics.

All it takes is a board and four wheels to instill confidence in a group of kids who need it the most.

This is the third year Zev Klymochko and the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts have held skateboarding clinics for kids with Asperger's and autism.

They just wrapped up their sixth and final clinic at the Westside Recreation Centre.

“A lot of these kids aren't able to play team sports because of their autism or Asperger's,” said Klymochko. “So having an individual activity like skateboarding, it's a great way for them to not only get exercise, but creatively express themselves and just have fun without relying on a team or a coach. They can progress at their own rate.”

The program is volunteer-based and runs in co-ordination with the Austism and Aspergers Friendship Society of Calgary.

“Any time kids do anything new, they gain new confidence,” said organization founder Dean Svoboda. “Every time a kid gains confidence or gains exposure to something they otherwise wouldn't try, that maybe snowballs into them trying other new things.”

Svoboda created the organization to help kids with autism and Asperger's connect and meet out of the classroom.

“A lot of kids were getting taught a lot of social skills, but never actually had the chance to use them, practice them, fail at some things and learn,” he said.

The skateboarding clinic is based of a similar program in the U.S.

Not only does the clinic help the kids learn the basics of the sport, but it gives them a space to create lasting friendships. Some of them now have their own equipment and continue to board in their own free time.

Klymochko said the appeal of skateboarding is pretty straightforward.

“The number one thing is fun. It's a fun activity. It's accessible. You can do it pretty much anywhere. So they skills they learn at our clinic they can take to another skateboard park,” he said.

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