Skating onto cloud nine

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The past six months have been lifechanging for Blackmans Bay resident Andrew Clark, thanks to the positive impact of being accepted into the local skating community.

Andrew’s mother Karen Clark has been thrilled to see the friendship and support offered to her son, who lives with several conditions that impact his day-to-day life.

“My son Andrew is 34, though his mental age is that of about 10 and he only looks about 15,” explained Karen.

“He has had a very hard life living with with epilepsy, which was twice life threatening as a young child, as well as an intellectual disability and autism.

“Andrew is a very social person and loves to be with people.

"He lives in supported accommodation and hasn’t had a house mate for a couple of years so consequently has gotten very lonely.”

Karen has praised the group of teenage boys who frequently attend the skate park and have made Andrew feel so welcome, especially Josh Owens, Nicholas Lee and Jasper Manshanden.

“About six months ago Andrew started going to the Blackmans Bay skate park with his carer and over time has formed some wonderful friendships with the boys,” continued Karen.

“This has been life changing for Andrew and for me.

“To see Andrew accepted and so happy is just wonderful.

“They accept him, they look out for him, they protect him if someone is rude to him and just make him part of their group.

“In this day and age when most teenage boys are on phones and iPads, it is so refreshing to see them out at a park skating and playing cricket and so caring and accepting of someone with a disability,” remarked Karen.

Josh, Nicholas and Jasper have become great friends to Andrew and Karen has been delighted to see the friendship grow as they are able to spend more time together.

In addition to the time at the skate park, pizza nights and car racing, the boys have enjoyed when Mission Australia have put on a weekend sausage sizzle at the skate park, which has been appreciated by everyone.

When the charity wasn’t in attendance recently, his friends were disappointed so Andrew insisted on going to the supermarket with his carer to buy sausages, drinks and supplies so that they could all enjoy a barbecue together, even though he is on a disability pension with little money to spare.

Karen is now providing a barbecue for her son and his friends most weekends and is happy to do so as part of the warm and welcoming community that the boys are now a part of.

Pictured above: Josh, Seamus, Nicholas, Andrew, Jasper and Leo sitting together on a wall the Blackmans Bay skate park, where Andrew has found a welcoming community of friends over the last six months. (PS)

Pictured above: Andrew Clark (second right) has had a life-changing six months after being welcomed into the Blackmans Bay skating community. (PS)