Four things I've learned helping kids with vision loss to skateboard
Written by Michelle Woodard | Photography by Keane Straub
Matt Janz (JA '12) is a low vision, legally blind Calgary skateboarder and the founder of Skate Bats, a program that introduces kids with vision loss to this highly creative skill that Janz says lets them "learn to take a risk, push themselves and learn something new and difficult."
Matt Janz was six years old the first time he stepped onto his dad’s old skateboard. Figuring out how to navigate the bump at the end of his driveway introduced Janz to a new world of mobility — and started him down a road that would eventually lead to creating a skateboarding program for kids who have vision loss.
Since its first meet-up in a church gym just over a year ago, Skate Bats has expanded in ways Janz never imagined. Not only are programs in four Alberta communities bringing a whole new group of kids to an activity that’s cool, creative and a bit dangerous, but those same programs are also helping him find hope, purpose and a new identity. Since 2015, Janz has continued to skateboard aggressively while losing his vision to a hereditary condition called retinitis pigmentosa.
Here are four things the Skate Bats founder learned while building creative, accessible spaces.
This story was originally written for the print version of the Spring 2021 issue of LINK — Raw, risky and full of joy.