|ESPN.com: Skateboarding||[Print without images]|
A documentary project about Crys Worley and her foundation that helps autistic kids through skateboarding is making strides toward a release date this summer.
The 90-minute film, entitled "Heart Child," is now in postproduction under the guidance of director Ben Duffy. The 22-year-old Duffy -- who also made the 2010 documentary "We Are Skateboarders" -- recently released the Heart Child trailer and launched an online Kickstarter campaign to gather funds for the movie's completion.
Like many of Worley's supporters, Duffy became intrigued with her Alabama-based A.Skate Foundation, which runs skate clinics that provide social interactions and energy outlets for children with autism. The spectrum of developmental disorders linked to autism, which affects social and communication skills, are being diagnosed at alarmingly high rates -- an average of one in 88 children, according to a government estimate released last month.
"[I saw] a post about A.Skate [and] it just sounded like the coolest thing ever, so I called Crys and I told her I wanted to help," Duffy told ESPN.com via email. "I met up with them and made a short little eight-minute piece. I was really inspired ... and asked if my best friend, Mike Sassano, and I could make a feature-length documentary on her."
The 29-year-old Worley was born with a heart condition and survived conjunctive heart failure at the age of 23. Her nine-year-old son, Sasha, was diagnosed with autism when he was 22 months old. When he was five, Worley discovered that she was better able to connect to her son while skateboarding together.
"As a parent of a child in the spectrum, for years all I wanted was for my child to acknowledge me," Worley told Vans Off the Wall TV for its online "Pass the Bucket" series. "And through skateboarding, he does." Worley's skate clinics have grown considerably since their modest beginnings in early 2009 -- A.Skate's nonprofit status was established a year later -- and the foundation has expanded its reach across the nation and overseas.
Along the way, she says, participating parents have experienced communication breakthroughs with their autistic children. And slowly, the reports of progress have been moving toward medical interest.
"Occupational therapist are starting to really get involved in the lives of their students who attend our clinics," says Worley. "Many parents have received amazing feedback from therapist who do OT sessions after the child has been stimulated from skateboarding. Maybe that will lead to something one day [in the field of medicine]. For now, we just skate."
The Sheckler Foundation's third annual Skate for a Cause charity session and best-trick contest will benefit A.Skate. The event runs Saturday, May 5, at the Etnies skatepark in Lake Forest, Calif.