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SACRAMENTO — All are welcome at Skate MD.

“It’s kids with disabilities — social, emotional, physical [or] it can be mental. We have kids with all kinds of diagnosis. A lot of kids on the autism spectrum, spina bifida, we have amputees,” Erick Nielsen said.

The event is designed to help young kids with special needs develop social communication and motor skills.

“The one thing about this program is that we did it to have fun, and then we hear from parents that it`s changing these kid’s lives,” Nielsen said.

All while getting the chance to hop on a skateboard.

Chad Slagle is a volunteer with the program, and he remembers one skateboarder in particular.

“When he first got here he had trouble making connections with people,” Slagle said. “He can barely stand on the skateboard so his coordination was lacking, and just seeing him get on the skateboard allowed him to focus on one thing and learn to balance.”

Confidence, slowly but surely built. For volunteers, the reward is the smiles, and for the kid, it`s their chance to be just that — a kid.

“Every clinic I just see him improving and saying hello to people,” Nielsen said. “He just gave someone a hug today out of the blue. It`s an amazing thing to see him grow like that.”

Skate MD began as an idea coupled with good intentions. From there, it has grown, far exceeding the founder’s expectations.

“When we first started it was just kind of an idea we came up with and said we think we should have a skate board clinic for kids with special needs,” Co-founder Andrea Bibelheimer said. “We had our first clinic, and the response we got from the community was overwhelming so we planned — and now here we are nine clinics later.”