Above Coping is a 501 (c)(3) non profit that was developed to provide support and new experiences to children and families who are affected by chronic health conditions. We offer the following services to these courageous people:
- Exclusive skateboard and art events will serve as opportunities for children to interact with one another. Seasoned and professional skateboarders will attend these events to provide skate-related and general guidance to youth as they progress in their abilities as skaters and as individuals.
- Signature skateboard decks with collaboration between skateboard artists and youth to create a unique graphic design based on the skater’s ideas. These decks are publicly distributed in core skate shops to promote awareness of the illnesses that impact youth, and provide opportunities for other youth skaters.
- Online support group for youth and families to interact with others with similar conditions. Those involved with Above Coping are given access to a private forum allowing them to discuss topics related to their illnesses. The forum will also provide opportunity for youth to explore skateboarding and related topics as an effective, healthy coping strategy.
There are 80 million children in the U.S. today, and 8%, or 6.5 million children and adolescents have chronic conditions that interfere with regular daily activities. If children with chronic conditions not severe enough to be considered disabling are counted, chronic conditions affect about 18% of American teens and children in all (Perrin, 2007). These conditions are illnesses or impairments that are expected to last for 12 months or longer and require medical attention and care that is above and beyond what is typically expected for a child or adolescent of the same age, extensive hospitalization, or in-home health services. These conditions include, among others, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, seizure disorders, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and congenial heart disease. Although each specific condition may be relatively rare, when they are considered together, many children and adolescents are affected (Committee on Children with Disabilities,1997).
A chronic health condition can affect youth in many ways. In addition to imposing physical changes and limitations, their self esteem and self concept can be compromised. The introduction of a new set of emotional conflicts during an already emotionally charged time interferes with their connections to peers. Chronic illness can add stress on relationships due to the limits on social activities or increased need for support. Further complicating the matter, a youth’s development of independence can be greatly impeded. In order to counteract these limitations, youth must be supported in adapting to their illness. This means not only recognizing the limitations their illness imposes, but also helping youth to rise Above Coping to engage in activities that inspire them to use their potential.
An estimated 11.6 million people in the United States participate in skateboarding, making it the third largest sport in the country behind football and basketball (Wyasaki, 2008). Boyd and Kim, in their 2007 study, note that individuals who participate in skateboarding and other extreme physical activities share a high degree of sensation seeking. This same study demonstrated that people with this trait are better equipped to manage anxiety, worry less, and often perform most optimally under pressure. Essentially, skateboarders view risky challenges as less threatening, and have lower levels of fear, stress and anxiety. They typically have higher levels of vigor, and lower levels of tension, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion (Boyd & Kim, 2007). Recent medical and surgical advances have significantly decreased the mortality rates for youth with chronic health conditions (Committee on Children with Disabilities,1997). Given this change in survival, health care for these individuals must be expanded to include more than just management of their chronic condition.
Above Coping recognizes skateboarding as a powerful tool that teaches resiliency, focus, and commitment to kids experiencing ongoing difficult challenges while reducing fear, stress, and anxiety.