Adaptive behavior students find outlet on skates

On any sunny Saturday, the skate park at Lea Hill Park is a happening place.

On any sunny Saturday, the skate park at Lea Hill Park is a happening place.

This past Saturday, however, the click of polyurethane wheels and the clack of wooden skate boards against concrete resounded for reasons other than pure recreation.

In fact, it was the Auburn Mountainview Adaptive Behavior Skate Club’s first ever skate competition.

On the ramps and concrete, a couple dozen skaters performed, vying for a handful of prizes, including skate boards and trophies.

“We put this together, we had parents donate all the food and All-A-Board (Skateshop in Puyallup) donated all the items and prizes,” said Julie Sohlstrom, who oversees the program with fellow teacher Tyler Jourgensen. “We’re really surprised at the turnout for this. This is just our first event.”

Sohlstrom, who with Jourgensen took over the program this year, the program seeks to help Auburn Mountainview students with behavioral, social and emotional issues that make it hard for them to fit in with the rest of the kids.

“In order to get them engaged and caring about school and their environment, we tried to find the things that they really like, what makes them thrive,” Sohlstrom said. “This year it was skating.”

Sohlstrom said students came up with the idea to open up the Two Twenty Two Skate Shop at the school.

Students meet after school every day in room 222, offering repairs of broken skateboards and a place to chat about tricks and skating in general.

Among the students involved in the program are: freshman Jake Whitson, who designed the shop and has skated for 10 years; sophomore Sam Sannes, who has skated for nine years and designs skateboards – including one up for a prize in the skate competition – and sophomore Zac Cort.

“The kids are just really thriving,” Sohlstrom said. “One of our students has made the honor roll.”

She continued:

“This is a difficult program to be a teacher of, there has been a lot of turnover,” Sohlstrom said. “But we’re really excited about everything we’ve heard, and the compliments about the program and the kids this year.”

Sohlstrom said the goal is for the kids to work their way out of the program – which has nine students, six of whom are scheduled to join next school year.

“We want them to find out what they need to do in life to succeed,” she said. “We want them to find out how they can control their temper, frustration and emotions so they don’t stand out in a negative way. So we want them to learn positive social skills and be successful and thrive in the community after graduation.”

Sohlstrom said the money raised by the competition and at the shop will be used for a team-building trip to Camp Waskowitz.