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Boy with cerebral palsy learns to skateboard in powerful video

Mom helps son with cerebral palsy learn to skateboard
WATCH: A video of a mom and her seven-year-old son went viral after they received a specially rigged skateboard from Brazilian company SkateAnima. (Video: Courtesy Lau Patrón and SkateAnima)

A video posted to social media has gone viral after it showed a young boy with cerebral palsy learning to skateboard.

When he was one year and eight months old, João Patrón suffered a severe stroke.

His mom, Lau Patrón, was working as a publicist at the time, but all of her plans changed after her son was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).

Though the stroke left João, now 7, with cerebral palsy, his mom said that never changed his spirit — or his dream to get on a skateboard.

READ MORE: Ontario boys with cerebral palsy get life-altering surgery, gain cherished friendship

“He was always the happier, curious boy and liked adrenaline,” she told Global News in an interview. “The dream of skateboarding was old, and the stroke has not changed that.”

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Lau said she has tried many times to replace her son’s desire to skateboard with other sports more accessible to him.

“He rode on a tricycle to the skate rides, but that was not what he wanted,” she explained.

Then she learned of SkateAnima, a Brazilian company started by physiotherapist Stevan Pinto and psychologist Daniel Paniagua, both avid skateboarders.

SkateAnima caters to children with various disabilities and adapts its skateboarding rigs for each child based on their needs. The frames allow children with disabilities to put their feet on a skateboard and ride.

“[They] created the project to realize a patient’s dream in 2015 and never stopped,” Lau said. “It is very powerful and beautiful work. It is necessary.”
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João uses a retrofitted walker created by skateboarder Ricardo Oliveira, whose daughter uses a wheelchair, to help him ride his skateboard.

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It’s an invention that’s changed lives.

“[Oliveira] created this walker so his daughter could ride with him,” Lau said. “I don’t know Ricardo but I have a deep admiration for him.”

Now, once a month, Lau’s son goes skateboarding with SkateAnima. As a team, SkateAnima and Lau have even put together an inclusive skate championship for children of all abilities to compete in.

In video footage, João can be seen laughing as his mom pushes him around a skate park near their home in Porto Alegre, a city in southern Brazil.

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He points his finger where he wants to go as the board travels up and over concrete hills. At the end, the camera zooms in on his smiling face.

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On the surface, SkateAnima allows children with different abilities the chance to experience sports. On a deeper level, Lau said, they’re helping society change its perspective on what children with disabilities can accomplish.

“What tools are we building to make the world belong to everyone? … Kids [are] growing up suffocated by a world that pretends not to see them,” she said. “We need to change our point of view and understand that places that don’t welcome everyone are disabled … Not people,” Lau said.

“I love sports and I love my son, who loves to experience the world and life so damn much.

“He’s a boy like any other, and this story is about that.”

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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