#068 A Higher Skate of Mind for Gifted Kids w/ Josh Smith

Featured Image #068 A Higher Skate of Mind for Gifted Kids w Josh Smith

It’s Gifted, Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week; and we’re Bringing Joy & Equity in Focus with this year’s theme.

As a proud partner of The G Word, Our Gifted Kids is delighted to raise awareness once again with a whole week of podcasts. Actually, 6 episodes! Where we talk about #gifted joy!

Podcast Line Up

  • Marc Smolowitz introduces the week with – #064 Gifted Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week does #giftedjoy
  • Monday
    • #065 Gifted Joy & Gifted Play; Why it’s Different w/ Kate Donohue
  • Tuesday
    • #066 Why Gifted Folk Need Board Games! w/ Justin Ratcliff
  • Wednesday
    • #067 How to Express Your Gifted Self with Digital Music & Art w/ Johannes Dreyer
  • Thursday
    • #068 A Higher Skate of Mind for Gifted Kids w/ Josh Smith
  • Friday
    • #069 Why Dungeons & Dragons is Gifted Bliss w/ Sam Young


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Our GTN Awareness Week Links



Josh Smith

Free Mind Skate School was founded by Josh Smith, a local skateboarder who has been skating in Adelaide for 20+yrs. Josh has become well known in the skate community and to local councils over the years due to his constant involvement in the facilitation of skate-related events and competitions, as well as being a competition judge with the Australian Skateboard Federation. On top of that, for nearly half a decade Josh has been seen at skateparks across Adelaide coaching beginners to help boost the next generation of Adelaide skaters. What started as a part-time job while studying full-time all those years ago, has turned into a way of life.

As well as being an avid skater, Stigma Stall mentor Josh also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioural Science and has vast experience in youth mentoring/engagement. Using positive mentorship through skateboarding to build a trusting and informal relationship, this serves as the foundation that positive change can be built upon.

Skateboarders are incredibly resilient, which comes from years of mastering their craft. In life we must get back up when we fall, and although falling is inevitable at times, this does not have to mean failure. Through progression in their skating, clients see within themselves that positive change is possible in their life. This inherently promotes clients to willingly take responsibility for their own future, whilst continually building confidence and developing resilience.

Hit play and let’s get started!


[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: Hello, and welcome to Thursday of gifted, talented and neurodiversity awareness week. We are getting through this week and it has been a wonderful excuse for us all to talk about some gifted joy. And so naturally when I look around at what brings us joy in this family, Skateboarding is a big part of that.

[00:00:20] And it’s actually a really awesome.

[00:00:23] Endeavor for gifted folk. And I’m not even just talking about gifted kids, gifted grownups as well, because as we’ve talked about a lot on this podcast, It can be very challenging to. Be comfortable in that space as a gifted person. Where you’re having to try and fail and get back up and try again and potentially fail again.

[00:00:49] Being in that place where things are hard and challenging. It’s a hard place to find as a gifted person. And it’s an even harder place to work through and develop that grit. And that growth mindset around it. And so skateboarding is like, literally. Falling down and getting back up again. When we hear our guest today, talking about in terms of skateboarding is literally like a resilience building machine. It makes sense. Right? So today I am delighted to talk to Josh Smith from Freeman skate school.

[00:01:26] Who is, and has been for a number of years now, mentor to our kids in skateboarding and many other gifted and twice exceptional kids. And I was excited to have Josh come along because you’re, I have certainly seen that myself. What a great.

[00:01:44] Haven’t you skateboarding is to learn this sort of grit and determination. And I think the reason it works is because it is also a whole lot of fun. And it’s all, it’s almost as hard as it is fun. Do you know? And so it’s a really great dynamic. So it was delighted today. Josh and I talk about. How inclusive the skateboarding community is.

[00:02:08] The incredible persistence, resilience and visualization that you need to conquer skateboarding. Skateboarding for girls and women these days. What expectations should we have as a parent going into skateboarding? This is a really important part of the conversation. And how we can help our kids set up for success in this area.

[00:02:29] And even mindfulness and skateboarding. A higher skate of mine, so to speak. Who would have thought, but as Josh says, you can’t be thinking about dinner while you’re skateboarding, because you’ll end up on the ground thinking about dinner. So it makes total sense. When you think about it. So I’m delighted to share this conversation with you and Josh.

[00:02:51] The way he is doing is just amazing with his coaches and the outcomes he’s getting in terms of building that confidence in soft skills. Is just truly fabulous. So I’m really excited to share this conversation with you. And we do have another podcast tomorrow and there is still plenty going on in GTM.

[00:03:14] Awareness week. So you can check out all the events at The G Word, and we’re a proud partner of The G Word. You can register there. And even late last year, all the content from GTN awareness week, last year is still online. There’s great staff. So check Also here at our gifted kids, we’re doing a podcast every day. We’re also opening our three new online communities. So if you would like to support the podcast, you can do it for as little as a coffee a month and help us to keep going and bringing awesome conversations to you. So check them out@ourgiftedkids.com backslash helps and all those things can be found in the show notes.

[00:03:56] So enjoy this conversation. And if you’re a skateboarder jump on social media or on Facebook and Instagram and let us know. Uh, we would love to hear who else out there in the gifted community is skateboarding. So stay quirky and I will talk to you again soon.

[00:04:44] I’m excited to Welcome to the podcast today, just Smith from FreeMind Skate School. Because we are talking about all things joyful this week, uh, for gifted, talented, and neurodiversity awareness week.

[00:04:59] And when I thought about joy and I thought about play, I naturally thought about skateboarding cuz it’s very, it’s a great source of joy and play in this household. And we’ve known Josh for a number of years as, as you’ve mentored our kids. So, welcome today, I’m really excited that you’re. Thanks

[00:05:19] Josh Smith: for having me.

[00:05:20] I’m excited to be here.

[00:05:22] Sophia Elliott: So first of all, maybe tell the listeners how, just tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you end up doing what you do now?

[00:05:31] Josh Smith: I guess what I do now is mm-hmm. , the mentoring program where essentially we, we look at stigma reduction through skateboarding.

[00:05:40] We work with any kids who. It’s not just neuro divergent by kids with trauma backgrounds or, you know, family issues or just any, any, any child that can essentially be stigmatized or feel the negative impacts of stigma in society. How I got to doing this kind of happens quite organically. I went to uni to, to do my philosophy degree, and I had to do it through a behavioral science.

[00:06:09] Yeah. Uh, student payment’s not too flash, so I needed to supplement my income and just started doing some part-time skateboard coaching and yeah, just over the years. Then really once we started digging into the social psychology kind of stuff, it became quite apparent that a lot of what makes me who I am just in terms of the re resilience and the ability to just overcome and keep pushing forward, it’s a lot of that was kind of forged.

[00:06:35] In the years I spent learning to skateboard in my early teens. So I, I kind of wanted to try and offer that. Skateboard is a, it’s, it’s always been a bit of a skateboarding’s, kind of a fringe activity. It’s not something that’s traditionally been accepted by mainstream society, which is obviously very relatable to a lot of parents with neuro divergent kids, it’s, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of stigma attached to anything that’s other than the status quo.

[00:07:03] Skateboarding’s not football or cricket. So where I grew up, skateboarding was considered quite weird, quite different. And you know, if you’re good at football and cricket, what, what are you doing on your skateboard kind of thing. So skateboarding I always loved more so the community more than anything else.

[00:07:18] And skateboarding is really accepting. There’s no age or gender or race or anything like that. If you rock up at the park with a skateboard, you’re a skateboarder and that’s all people see. And I really wanted. To try and offer that to, to kids who are feeling like I was feeling as a young skateboarder.

[00:07:38] Feeling like I didn’t really fit into society, over the journey at uni, there started to kind of be some sort of scientific backing for a lot of these processes that were a big part of my life. So I just thought, if we.

[00:07:51] I can just take some kids and bring ’em out to the skate park. Everyone’s super welcoming. These, these kids might not be, you know, accepted in ball sports or they might be into things that a lot of the other kids at school aren’t into, and they might, you know, skateboarding is a real obsession.

[00:08:06] I just thought, you know, being able to channel, channel that attention, channel, that energy it was just starting to make a little bit of sense in my head. So I kind of just drafted a, drafted a mentoring program, had a look at what we could work on.

[00:08:23] Skateboarding just seemed to tick every box for building resilience and building confidence. And I thought that’s really what, it’s really what these kids need is come out and have some fun, you know, develop a little bit of resilience on the way. But the, the confidence is the massive thing that we’re really trying to give these kids just so they can go out there and just feel like they are accepted in society, feel empowered to go out and just have, you know, try new things.

[00:08:51] And the big thing about skateboarding is it’s perfectly okay to fail. You probably spend 90% of your time failing, 5% of your time wishing you weren’t failing, and then the very small percentages left over for actually succeeding and, and having that sense of accomplishment.

[00:09:06] Skateboarding is a mindset more so than a skill set. And I wanted to be able to try and share that mindset. So yeah, it started with a few clients. It was working quite well, obviously, feedback from, from parents along the way. It’s been massively inspiring and yeah, it was started to become less of a crazy idea and much more of a concrete reality that this is.

[00:09:30] Even with the five or six clients, I thought this is already impacting lives and parents wanting to, you know, go from one session a fortnight to two sessions a week. This is kind of became apparent real quick that this is making more of an impact than I ever kind of hoped it could have. And you know, got to the end of my degree and have the chance to go and do my my postgraduate study.

[00:09:53] I just could not bear the thought of turning away, you know, kids like yours. If I was doing my postgraduate study right now, I wouldn’t be doing mentoring with these kids, and I could, I couldn’t really handle that thought. And these kids have got faces, they got stories. I know their names and their background, and I don’t know, just the university’s not going anywhere.

[00:10:10] I can always go back and study later. So right now felt like I was sitting on something pretty special and thought I’d see what would happen if. Gave it my full-time commitment now that I wasn’t studying full time. And yeah, in a, in a very short space of time, we’ve gone from, you know, seven or eight kids to seeing well in excess of a hundred kids a week across our program.

[00:10:32] So it’s gone pretty crazy pretty quickly to quite surreal. And I feel very, very lucky to be able to share something that’s so, you know, something that’s so near and dear to my heart and my struggles and my journey to get where I am to to be. Pass that on and share that with other kids that are just like, I was at that age here, I divergent, and parents that are just like, How can we contain this madness?

[00:10:57] Like there’s just so much energy, so much, so much hype at all times. And yeah, that skateboarding was, was like the, the elixia of life for me that just gave me everything I needed.

[00:11:09] But I think the skateboarding community itself is also what makes the program so successful is just, just the nature of the skateboarding community itself.

[00:11:18] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. I have to say I was surprised. It was probably, I’m trying to think how long it was, probably more than three years ago. One of my kids asked for a skateboard for Christmas, came outta nowhere. I’m not even sure how we ended up in that place, but then found you and your colleagues and Like when I was growing up, skateboarding wasn’t really for girls.

[00:11:44] There were lots of things that girls didn’t do. Skateboarding was one of them. So I didn’t have any kind of life experience myself with skateboarding. And I can honestly say I was surprised at how inclusive and welcoming the skateboarding community is. And it’s pretty much any skate park we’ve been to, no matter how rough the area is, cuz argu.

[00:12:09] You could say our area’s a little, a bit rough in places. And we have the, a new skate park, locally this last year, which has been quite amazing. And I didn’t know what to expect. And I have to say I was surprised at how welcoming and inclusive and anywhere you go, if there’s a skateboarder.

[00:12:33] My, my daughter or my sons, you know, it’s friendly. They’ll happily give you a couple of tips on something you’re doing. It’s encouraging. Yeah. I, I guess I was surprised by that, but it’s actually a really beautiful place and that’s obviously your experience.

[00:12:53] Josh Smith: Yeah, and those are, those are the things that I’ll, that I hold, you know, really dear to me about skateboarding and.

[00:13:00] A lot of the driving force behind what the mentoring program is, is so much of, you know, so much of what, what we covered over the behavior of science degree, talking about stigmatization and how you can mitigate the negative impacts of, of stigma in society. It’s, it’s all about inclusion and just, just normalizing things and skateboarding does that, it’s.

[00:13:26] Like you said, it’s, it’s almost shocking, but a lot, your response is actually a really common response. I’d say nine outta 10 parents have the exact same reaction. Kid wants a skateboard or, uh, if it’s just gate coaching, the kid wants a skateboard and the parents like, I don’t know. That’s a bit rough. And there is, there is still to this day that that negative stigma attached to skateboarding in the skateboarding community, and it’s not until you see it for.

[00:13:53] What it really is and how beautiful it can actually be and how accepting it can be. And that’s, , even support workers with kids in our mentoring program as well. You know, someone, , another support worker told us about this. We were really skeptical, you know, we had a conversation with Josh about it and we thought, , we’ll just give it a go.

[00:14:12] And, , three weeks later, all the kids requested to go to two sessions a week. Now that that’s all they talk about every day. , you know, it comes to the end of the session and kids like, Oh, do we have to leave? We wanna sleep here.

[00:14:23] And you know, just, just like when we opened indoor facility, seeing your kids come through there and it’s like, I don’t even, I didn’t even care this escape like this is, you’re like, Oh, my, the kid’s in, It’s not a lot of skating. Like, I’m, I’m like, It’s good, it’s fine. Like it’s a new space. They’re happy.

[00:14:39] This is exactly what it’s all about. There just being kids. There’s no judging lies. There’s. This, they could do no wrong right there. As long as they’re not hurting themselves. As long as they’re being safe, just let them, let them run free. And that’s what’s really beautiful about skateboarding is it’s not like kicking a ball.

[00:14:59] It’s not like a sport where there’s a certain technique you have to do to try and score the points. It’s do your own way. Do what works for. Some, some kids just like they think it’s the greatest thing in the world when they can just roll on a straight line. They got no interest in going down the ramps.

[00:15:16] Other kids are just like, I don’t wanna skate out on the flat, I wanna go down the biggest ramp possible. And particularly with the mentoring program, it’s so much about fun. I know with one of your kids, when we started, there was so much, so much of it was and holding for so long. If it. If that was one of my, my private skate coaches with one of their participants, they’d be like, All right, they’ve hit that step time to get rid of their hands.

[00:15:40] You know, it’s push ’em a bit further. It’s more like coaching, but with the mentoring program, it’s like, I don’t care how long we hold hands, we’ll hold hands until the participants like starts pulling away because it’s, it’s just about giving them that fun, that adrenaline rush is kind of priceless. A lot of these kids who’ve never felt that adrenaline rush before.

[00:16:00] It’s not, I’m not even gonna try and put that into words. It’s you know, just, just the look on your kids’ face when they achieve something new. So you can’t, words on that, it’s just something, something special in that moment. And I’m trying to create that moment for as many kids as possible. Cuz that could be, it’s, it’s so empowering, having, having something that joyful happiness is, it’s one of the most therapeutic things.

[00:16:27] Sophia Elliott: So some of the things I’ve certainly noticed at the skate park is, like you say, first of all, it’s that sense of community.

[00:16:34] It’s like you’re not just there to skate and learn a trick. That’s part of it. But there are days, you know, we turn up and our kids are just feeling a bit tired. It’s the end of term, and so they’ll be a bit. Socializing on those days, or instead of going down ramps, you’re practicing how to fall or you know, just doing, uh, like skate games.

[00:17:01] You, you have games that you play with them. Yeah. And so I love how responsive you are to where they’re at on that particular day, and that it’s about more than just learning a trick. It’s about. That sense of community and socializing at the skate park, which is really great. And, and like you say, kind of opens up their world a bit a bit more.

[00:17:26] And I do, I really love it when, you know, someone will do a trick and anyone who notices will give a bit of a whoop. It’s really not. Yeah, that’s right. No

[00:17:38] Josh Smith: more not. They just see skateboarding and go, I liked.

[00:17:41] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, totally. And it’s sort of like any anyone’s fair game for, Hey, how do you do this? Or, you know, offering a bit of advice or asking and, and people are always really friendly and yeah, happy to, to respond.

[00:17:58] I think one thing that you really touched on there is the resilience and the confidence. And I think, you know, I know that you have a lot of gifted and twice exceptional. Students or skate buddies, . And and I think one, you know, one of the things we’ve certainly seen is it’s like you say 90% of the time it’s falling on your butt or, you know, practicing the trick.

[00:18:25] So it’s that resilience and persistence in and keep going. And we talk about that a lot with gifted kids because so often things come easily to them. It can be hard to find. That place where something is challenging and they have to learn how to be resilient and persistent. And I think skateboarding is particularly, particularly good for that because even if you have some natural talent, and I remember we, we brought along a friend from school who was with us for the day and, and they were, had quite a bit of natural talent cuz they were a bit of a gymnast, but nonetheless had to.

[00:19:05] You know had to have a go and had to persist, uh, in, in learning how to do it. So I think those things in particular, I think make it really great for, for gifted kids. Uh, and, and like you said before, it’s, it’s a, a wonderful thing to hyper focus. And really get obsessive about, uh, for those neuro divergent kids who have a tendency to, uh, have things, you know, that they obsess about or hyper focus on those special interests because it provides so much.

[00:19:42] Yeah, the resilience, the confidence, the community, the socializing. I know we certainly, the kids will skateboard around the house. You know, until I, until I’m like, Right, take it outside, and that kind of thing, and it’s just, uh, yeah, it just becomes a part of their feet. But tell us about how skateboarding has changed for girls over the last couple of decades.

[00:20:07] Where are we at now with girls? Because yeah, I see a lot more over, especially over the last three years. Or, or girls at skate

[00:20:17] Josh Smith: parks. It is growing rapidly, like women’s skateboarding is, without a doubt, the fastest growing sport in the world and has been for quite a few years now. Like I mentioned earlier about, you know, skateboarding, there’s no, you know, there’s no race or background or gender.

[00:20:35] It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, as long as you rock up with a, a reasonable attitude and you’re happy to say hello to people, you’re gonna be welcomed with open. So there has always been that social pressure. Obviously it is still a male dominated sport, uh, but it’s not through lack of inclusion, it’s just, just the general stereotypes of society or women don’t skate or women don’t play Aussie rules footy or women don’t play rugby or what, whatever it is.

[00:21:06] But down at the cold face, the woman rocks up with this gay bullet where hyped like sick. Women think they can’t skate and you’ve rocked up with a skateboard. We got all the time in the world to offer you these tips and, and so on. But yeah, quite, quite a few years ago, I think maybe six or six or seven years ago, the highest level skateboarding competition started putting up equal prize money for first place in skateboarding competitions.

[00:21:39] Seven years ago, I probably could have competed in the highest level of women’s skateboarding. And that’s, that’s not big noting myself, but either I’m, I’m well over the hill with my skateboarding myself. But the level just wasn’t very, very high at all. There was a small handful of professional female skateboarders around the world, and they almost, it was almost an inlet only event.

[00:22:00] Like they’ll try and muster up eight women to make a final. The competition wasn’t very good at all. Yeah, The following year they announced equal prize money, I think it was $200,000 or something that they would pay men’s for first place and they went, let’s, we’re doing that for women as well. Regardless of the level and.

[00:22:27] That cha that changed the game. That’s like, that’s the model for what we could be doing in other sports is Yeah. That’s

[00:22:33] Sophia Elliott: amazing.

[00:22:35] Josh Smith: To make it to that top level. Like people talk about women’s Aussie rules football and they’re like, Oh, the level’s nowhere near as good as the men’s. I’m like, Yeah, the men are working full-time jobs and then going to training afterwards.

[00:22:46] Like the women don’t get paid adequately to, to be at that. They have to work. That’s, this is more of a hobby than their full-time job. Yeah. So when, when the Street League skateboarding started offering equal prize money over the next couple of years, even just that you could watch the level of skateboarding increased dramatically.

[00:23:10] And it went from the same skaters at every single competition to now they broadcast the prelims and there’ll be a hundred women rock. I wouldn’t even be in the top 200 women skateboarders in the, in the world now. Whereas, you know, only half a decade ago I probably could have competed quite well. So just I feel like that fast level of progression, they’ve always been there.

[00:23:35] There’s always been these women who are keen and willing to skate and now it’s right from the highest level. The men have gone, like, we’re open. This is for everyone. And now women, women and young girls are just gravitating to it because, you know, like we spoke about before, there’s no end time to it. You can do it all Saturday long.

[00:23:56] And there’s young girls that are doing the same thing now. Because there’s big prize money up for grabs. They broadcast the women’s finals now. There’s big name sponsors are putting up this money, so they want their value for their money that they’re putting up, which is good, but it’s quite corporate.

[00:24:15] There’s a lot of core skateboarders like, Oh my god, skateboarding. So corporate, I don’t care. Skateboarders don’t have money. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t be like, we want big prize money and everyone to love skateboarding, but we don’t want corporate entities in skateboarding, you can’t have it both ways.

[00:24:31] To, to create top level competitors. There need, there needs to be funding available, there needs to be, you know, infrastructure surrounding that competition series. So a lot of money has come into skateboarding and it’s providing a lot of opportunities for, for women that were never there before because the skateboarding never really had a lot of money in it.

[00:24:50] You’d have, even men skaters were paying their own ticket fairs when they’d go to competitions. Now, companies like Nike and New Balance are pumping crazy amounts of money into skateboarding, treating their top level skateboarders like athletes. And there’s that trickle down effect now where, you know, even one of our young coaches, Jack, it’s like, I need to get my diet, my sleep sorted.

[00:25:15] Like I’m gonna make it in skateboarding at the top level competitor. I’ve gotta start looking after my body and whatnot. And I, it’s a. Skateboarding’s a lot tidier than it used to be. That team. But essentially, skateboarding’s become a lot more mainstream, a lot more people know about skateboarding. And then skateboarding, obviously being in the Olympics recently is, I think the entire podium is under the age of 18.

[00:25:45] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, I, we wa we obviously watch the Olympics cuz we have a big interest in it. I, you know, that’s gotta change the scene a bit and like you said, more money coming into it. And I don’t know if I’m imagining it, but there seems to be more skate parks popping up around Adelaide, which is obviously great.

[00:26:06] Yeah. So it sort of has really elevated the sport. But yeah, I noticed that as well. Very, very young competitors in the Olympics.

[00:26:16] Josh Smith: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Like. I went over and judged the, the national championships recently for street skateboarding, and we have an under nines division now, nine and under. I didn’t start skateboarding until I was 11, and some of these kids that are under nine years old would just, they just did better than me.

[00:26:37] I don’t know how, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what the hell’s in the water up there in Queensland where they’re feeding these kids. Just that, that level of investment into skateboarding. 15, 20 years ago, Queensland didn’t really have much of a skateboarding scene, and over the last decade it’s become more accepted that building a lot more parks.

[00:26:58] I think the Brisbane cbd, like the Brisbane Council has 40 skate parks just within their council accounts, which is unbelievable. Yeah, and it shows, like, it absolutely shows when you go over there and see the level of skateboarding. They have these, these massive facilities everywhere and you know, we’ve just got the new Adelaide City skate park built that I was on the advisory committee for, and we’ve got this massive world class bowl for people to skate in So many Adelaide skaters.

[00:27:29] Like what a waste of money. That thing’s huge. I can’t even skate. It’s not for. It’s for the next generation, the kids that are starting at the bottom and eventually they’ll start getting closer and closer and closer to the top and it’s, it’s gotta start somewhere. Someone’s just gotta build a massive hole in the ground and go, Good luck,

[00:27:46] I don’t mind, Yep. They wish the skate park was a certain way. Like I’m, like I said, I’ve had my time in skateboarding. I’m just grateful to be rolling around. Most of my time and energy is into the next generation and trying to kind of create those opportunities that kids in, kids in, in the states.

[00:28:04] When I was growing up, I used to look over to the United States and like, Oh, I wish we had indoor skate parks and I wish we had competition series. And you know, we do have it in Australia now, but it’s really over on the east coast. And I go over there every year to the national championships and I just see where Australian skateboarding is at.

[00:28:21] I come back to Adelaide, Hungary than ever. We need to do more, like, we need to be investing in, in local infrastructure, little competition series, Nothing to do with the prizes and winning, just to bring the community together. Have everyone at the skate park on the one day with music playing and or just a social event, and creating an even bigger and better community than we’ve voted them on.

[00:28:44] Mm-hmm. And even more people will gravitate towards it. It’s can only, can only be good. For kids in Adelaide, especially neuro diverging kids that have got some of them, hell of a lot of energy that needs burning off. Yeah, the more, more skate parks we’ve got, the more safe spaces we’ve got for families to take their kids and be accepted and obviously have a lot of fun.

[00:29:12] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. I one of my favorite memories is of my daughter at a skate competition, skating around with other girls, and she’s like cruising along in her pink helmet in her tutu. Yeah. Just kind of doing it her own way and I just thought it was a really beautiful thing. So, what do parents need to know about skateboarding?

[00:29:32] Obviously you need a skateboard and. Uh, you know, any sort of tips for parents who, whose child come home and says, I wanna skateboard, or maybe things, actually, maybe my, my, my kid would be into this. How do we kind of, how do we access it?

[00:29:52] Josh Smith: Well first, first thing is obviously getting a skateboard like you actually, or you wanna decide if you want to just let them skateboard or if you wanna obviously get some assistance.

[00:30:06] Obviously we do the mentoring program, uh, hire quite a few coaches as well and a lot of, a lot of parents when they buy, you know, it’s coming up to Christmas time, I’m sure as parents are buying their kids first skateboard, they’ll be ringing us to buy one skate lesson as well. Like, here’s your skateboard and your skate lesson.

[00:30:25] And a lot of, a lot of parents just try and get their kids started. And I guess the biggest thing for parents to, to realize the biggest thing. I guess that we come up against is the expectations that parents have. A way of skateboarding is really, really difficult, which is why it’s so good for building resilience.

[00:30:50] But number one cause of a disappointment is expectation. So if you set the, So if you set your standards too high, or if you think, Alright, I’m just gonna get skateboard, and my kid will just go in the driveway. Have fun with it. They’re, you’re probably gonna hear them screaming out for mom 10 minutes later.

[00:31:08] Like, it’s concrete is hard. Concrete hurts when you fall on it. Yeah. It’s not something you go little Jimmy, here’s your skateboard. Go have fun because that’s skateboarding’s. No joke. So it’s something the kids need to be guided through something. They need assistance. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have a professional skate coach.

[00:31:31] It just means that parents need to be willing to embrace skateboarding as well. If you can’t just buy a kid, a skateboard and go, Cool, now they’ll learn to skate. Like it’s especially not now, maybe 20 years ago when kids couldn’t just be like, Oh, this is hard. I’m just gonna go jump on my. Or the kids are so used to that, you know, quick satisfaction and instant gratification.

[00:31:58] They’ll go and try and push on a skateboard, be absolutely hopeless at it, and they’ll be like, That sucks Skateboarding’s not for me. That is,

[00:32:07] Sophia Elliott: that’s so, it’s that whole set them up for success from the get go. Cause you’re right. It is really hard. Yes. And what I’m, I’ve learned is that if you’re going to do it, it is worth getting a decent skateboard.

[00:32:23] Yes. Pads, obviously helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and stuff. And so, Set them up for success, maybe see if there is, uh, I mean anyone in Adelaide or South Australia, you can get in touch with you guys, but if you’re elsewhere in the world see what the local offerings are in terms of maybe, like you said, here’s your board, here’s your lesson, you know, to kinda get you going.

[00:32:49] Yeah. Get those first tips just so that you. First experience is a successful experience.

[00:32:56] Josh Smith: Yeah. And we have, we have people in choir about lessons and I, I, I appreciate, like I grew up quite poor, so I appreciate that. Not everyone can afford private coaching. So we’ll have people in choir like I’m just go you to skateboard.

[00:33:13] How much lessons, We’ll give them the price. Sorry, we can’t afford it. We’re like, That’s fine. Still take ’em out skateboarding, and I’ll even just offer a couple of little tips. It’ll be like, make sure you support them. You know, we can, we can still offer help even if people can’t afford to book in their own private lessons.

[00:33:34] And it is that, that, you know, free help will offer is just normalizing the learning process. Like, just don’t expect your kid to go out there. Be amazing right from the get go. Mm-hmm. , you’re probably gonna go out to the skate park with your kid and they will be the worst skateboarder at the skate park.

[00:33:52] And your job as a parent in that moment is not to try and create a good skateboarder, it’s just to be their support network. Just as we would do as mentors in our mentoring program. Learn, you know, kids learning how to push. It’s frustrating. Like I think learning how to push is the. Part of skateboarding.

[00:34:11] I remember with one of your kids, it was so long where I’d be like, Just get your feet on the board. Take my hands. And it was just about building confidence and Yep, basically flying to do that with kids, you’ve gotta give them that joy, almost give them that little sense of, even if it’s just a micro dose of adrenaline, where they’re rolling down the driveway with mom or dad holding their hands, that can, that can be enough to get them.

[00:34:37] And they’ll want to learn, and they’ll want to go through that struggle and they’ll go, All right, well, this is really, really difficult learning how to push, but once I learn how to push, I can roll down the driveway without mom holding my hands. And they’re already kind of chasing that freedom. It’s even at 10 or 11 kids are, they’re really trying to mentally, they’re really breaking out and looking for freedom already, as, as you know, as, as we all know as.

[00:35:03] Kids are pretty keen on freedom in whatever capacity they can get it. Uh, they like being free to do their own thing. They like being proud of doing stuff on their own. And it’s only when things are really difficult or it seems hopeless that they’ll become quite dependent on that assistance. So skateboarding is, is a mindset more than anything.

[00:35:27] And as a parent of a child wanting to skateboard, It’s no different. It’s a mindset. It’s understanding that my child is about to embark on a process that’s actually quite difficult and there’s a 99% chance that they’re gonna fail the first time they try this. My job is not to be like, Oh, alright, well teach them how to be good.

[00:35:47] Your job is to just like, literally have time to catch them when they fall, but, but be there as a support network. Just a big part of what we do as coaches with beginners is normalize the process of failure. It’s what you’re doing is right. I remember when I was learning how to push like that. Oh my god, I haven’t, I forgot that.

[00:36:09] I used to do that when I was first learning how to skate. Like all these little things that we say kid will fail and in that moment I’ll look up almost shattered that they’ve stepped off their board and even when they hit the ground and fall, like I’m sure you’ve seen at times, Your kids hit the ground.

[00:36:27] I’m sure I was. I might be the first person that’s ever cheered when your child’s hit the ground. It’s a very odd thing for people who experience and you know, as, as a skateboarder of 25 years, I’ve seen a lot of kids hit the ground. I’ve seen a lot of people hit the ground. I kind of, you know, when it’s a bad one Yeah.

[00:36:50] Fall down or they’ve stepped off their border if they’ve hit a rock and tripped over, like. I’ll laugh, I’ll, in a positive way. Like we take, we take the power out, the pain and go, Oh, that sucks. But you know, I remember. Or, Oh no, you hit a stick. Like that’s the worst. I remember I was on a footpath one day and I had my hot chips and gravy in my hand, and I hit a stick and I draw my chips everywhere and kids laugh and forget that they.

[00:37:17] They just smacked their knee on the ground a minute ago because, and it’s just, just snapping that, Oh my God, I’ve hurt myself. I’m, I’m scared. This is where’s, where’s mom? Like, we just instantly snap the attention away from it. If you can get a positive reaction just to a failure, they’re gonna try again.

[00:37:34] And it’s trying to encourage these positive reactions to, to negative outcomes is, that’s the core of the mentoring program, right? But it’s nothing special about the mentoring program. That’s just skateboarding. That’s why I find the program so easy to run. So I pinch myself at times. I’m like, I’m really just, I went to uni and I felt like all they did was just remind me.

[00:37:59] I knew stuff that I was already there and oh, well, I can use this to help others. That’s amazing, fantastic. And that’s why it’s so fluent for myself and our other mentors is because it’s, it’s, it’s just what we do. It’s what we do every. You know, all our sessions, we make sure the kids leave and we’ll go through that same process ourself for the next two hours.

[00:38:19] And more than happy, like I, I don’t know how many times you’ve rocked up for your sessions and one of our coaches, Jack, is just throwing himself down the stairs and he’ll laugh, Get back up, go again. And it’s just, it’s just what we do, It’s natural to us. So I appreciate that. That’s not gonna be natural to a lot of.

[00:38:41] but failure is everything in skateboarding. The better you get at skateboarding, the more time you spend on the ground cause you’re pushing yourself further and further and further. So yeah, as a parent with a child wanting to learn skateboarding don’t be scared of failure. I know a lot of parents, kids in our mentoring program were really hesitant because their kids don’t handle failure and they know skateboarding’s.

[00:39:11] And they’re just absolutely blown away by our response to their kids’ failures. And more than that, they’re blown away that their kid wants to come back for another dose of failure next week. It’s, it’s crazy. It’s it’s a bit of a paradigm shift for a lot of parents where they’re just so used to trying to avoid the failures and avoid things that are gonna cause a negative reaction in their child.

[00:39:34] And, you know, That’s why the mentoring program’s so good. We’re not trying to provoke these negative reactions. We just skate with them. We try skateboarding. If it’s really difficult, we’ll take a break from it. We’ll go and do something else. There’s always something else we can do. But yeah, skateboarding’s really difficult.

[00:39:59] So just be there to support your kid. Be more than happy to hold their hands like. Don’t place expectations on them that kills kids’. Enthusiasm in skateboarding, nothing breaks my heart more than when I was doing a lot of private coaching, you know, we’d hit a milestone we’d roll down a ramp. The first time kids ever rolled down a ramp without me holding their hand.

[00:40:23] And like, I wanna show dad, I wanna show dad. I’m like, All right, cool. Dad, what’s this? And they roll down the ramp and the dad just goes, Oh, cool. Now do it down the big one. Oh, . Oh

[00:40:33] Sophia Elliott: no. Thanks for the hype. Yeah. That take the wind

[00:40:36] Josh Smith: out. Oh, way. Stay in the car.

[00:40:39] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. , stay in the car.

[00:40:42] Josh Smith: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s praise, praise everything.

[00:40:46] Because that’s what’s gonna get the wanting to push. And the smallest little win. Yeah. As a parent, a kid might like, look, I’m standing on it and you’re at the skate park and there’s people whizzing around, going down ramps, doing tricks. And new kids just there like, Rolling. They’ve got their hands in their air looking like a scarecrow.

[00:41:05] They’re fully stiff, lagged and barely rolling, but they’re excited about it. Yeah, never, never be embarrassed for where your kid is at in their level of skateboarding. Always praise them for anything that they seem even slightly excited about cuz that’s, that’s skateboarding like we do. As you know, more experienced skateboarders.

[00:41:25] Get excited when you know you do adult beginner lessons. I’ll cheer just the same, just the same as if Jack was jumping down the stair set. We’ve got, you know, a 40 year old beginner that does lessons and he’s just learning how to roll down ramps and, you know, we cheer for him, he’ll roll down and he’ll look around and he’ll just like, like he’s just won the grand final.

[00:41:48] He’s got his arms up in the air looking around. He’s like, he’s like, You just never imagined that he’d be a part of something where people were cheering for him. That’s really beautiful. Cause he would think that he would get judged for being older and not being very good at skateboarding and mm-hmm.

[00:42:03] you know, he had his first actual lesson there with us and it’s like, I can’t believe I’ve never came here before. And that’s really beautiful. So we really don’t be scared to get your kids out to the skate park, but just be, be well aware that they’re gonna be, It’s hard, They’re gonna be drawn to not like it’s just gonna.

[00:42:24] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. So it’s praising the effort, praising the persistence and the resilience and just every little baby step and achievement. Yeah, absolutely. I, I have hopped on a skateboard recently myself, I think only like three times, so I can attest to how hard it is. And the first time I jumped on, I would, and it’s just like getting on the skateboard and getting the skateboard to move.

[00:42:52] Like it’s really hard. Yeah. And I had three kids coming up going, Oh, do this, do that. And Oh, this is how you do a kick turn. I’m like, uh, I’m Mommy is just practicing getting on and off the skateboard, like chill a when and if I get to kick turns, I will come and get some tips. But, so it is, it’s, it’s a very challenging sport.

[00:43:16] A lot of fun, and I know that you guys also do group sessions, which can be, uh, you know, cheaper than one on one sessions, and you do group sessions for folk who are homeschooling, competition support, mentoring you girls. Boys, any gender identity is absolutely welcome at the skate park. And also like little kids, old kids, adults.

[00:43:42] So a really beautiful kind of inclusive community and full of possibilities.

[00:43:48] Josh Smith: So yeah. Yeah, we got a kid, we got a kid who’s two and a half years old in our program, and then we got a lady who’s 54 years old in our program. So age really is absolutely irrelevant. Obviously, It can change your mentality.

[00:44:06] Adults have obviously got liabilities, so for you got, you got family members dependent on you. It’s obviously much more severe if you lose your income due to injury or something like that. But, but as far as the actual getting out there and giving it a go, there’s, there’s no, there’s no barriers to it. It really is.

[00:44:24] It really is. All mental people tell themselves that they’re too old then. And they’re too old. But the reality is, if you think you’re young enough to do a, get out there and do it it’s a pretty common saying in skateboarding. You didn’t quit skateboarding because you got old.

[00:44:41] You got old because you quit skateboarding. That’s, I like that. That’s kind the story of my life. As you see, like some of the kids, I’m more than happy to go play on the playground, lay on my back, and roll down heels on the skateboard. That’s all life’s for. Life is for play, and it’s kind of perfect. The thing thing at the moment, the joy, it’s, that’s all I’m trying to do is just feel that myself and then share it with as many people as possible.

[00:45:08] So it’s very welcoming. Yeah, as you can attest to, It’s a lot more welcoming than you, you think it’s gonna be, despite the fact that it is, it can be quite intimidating when you get to the skate park for the first time. Cause it’s confronting. You’ll see people falling. Especially at Jack’s down there, you’ll just go, My gosh, that’s, that’s really intense.

[00:45:35] But it’s everyone’s welcome. People care more about your attitude and your mindset towards skateboarding than they do about your skateboarding skill. You know, the local group of skaters at our local skate park, the skill level is so divergent. Like there’s, it’s a big variance from the best gator.

[00:45:54] But you know, someone who’s only just starting out and we’ll all hang out together as if it doesn’t matter. Like we’re a skateboarders, something else matters. If nothing, really, nothing else matters. Bring, bring a good attitude. Be happy to say, just say hello to everyone and the skate park will pretty quickly become one of your favorite places to take the kids.

[00:46:13] I. Hmm.

[00:46:15] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, it is, it’s great. And you know, you’re outside. It’s a great outdoors thing to do. And just before we finish up, I also kind of wanted to say, uh, you guys have a program which is actually about mindfulness and skateboarding. Yep. Which I thought was really cool. Uh, and I totally get how skateboarding can be a very, uh, mindful activity.

[00:46:38] So I think it just sort of highlights the. You know, the breadth that skateboarding has to offer in terms of the benefits? Yeah,

[00:46:47] Josh Smith: really good. The mindfulness program is obviously we do our stigma store mentoring program, which is for the kids of various backgrounds. It’s predominantly used by participants that have got N D I S funding.

[00:47:02] It’s, we predominantly work with kids. The highest state of mind that that mindfulness program. That’s more about trying to share some of the elements of that mentoring program with with adults. You know, skateboarding for you, for example, would not, if it doesn’t have, you’re not trying to compete, you’re not trying to get really good at it.

[00:47:23] Yeah. But as you would’ve found, stepping on the board is quite difficult. If you are trying to skateboard, think and think about what’s for dinner that night, you will end up laying on the ground thinking about what’s for dinner that night. Like you’d have to be fully present. Because you can go from standing to falling so quickly that you can’t really be anywhere else mentally.

[00:47:45] And skateboarding is all about visualization. You know, I’ll say to kids when we’re at the top of the ramp, and I don’t think, stop thinking about going over the edge of the ramp. Imagine yourself rolling away once you’ve gone off the bottom of the round, like, like literally close your eyes and see yourself doing it and.

[00:48:06] It becomes real, like it already feels good. Now just do it for real. Like, yeah, it’s obviously harder. But yeah, that the mindfulness program is really, it’s, it’s like a really slowed down version of skate coaching where we pretty much go through the process of learning to skate, but along the way, you know, the facilitator of that program, You have four people lined up there, and he’ll just be focusing on the pushing technique and he’ll just be like, Stop.

[00:48:41] Who’s thinking about anything other than skateboarding right now who came in here stressed and just bringing conscious awareness to the fact that you walked in the room with all these things on your mind and you’ve been trying to get on your board for 10 minutes. It’s gone and bringing that to people’s attention, you know, you have the power to turn that off.

[00:49:03] Those thoughts, that gnarly stuff that we deal with all day, every day. Have a skateboard in your car. Stop off at the skate park for 20 minutes after work and it’s gonna give you that separation from your stressful day. And you can go into your home life, you know, feeling a lot more present in your own life.

[00:49:21] You know, you realize that you’re. It’s so common for people to take stress home from work and put it onto their family or their loved ones. And we have a lot of people with the, that have done the mindfulness program. That’s probably the biggest bit of feedback we get from the people that have done the mindfulness program is like we are not even trying to like be good at skateboarding.

[00:49:42] We’re just happy to go to the skate park for 20 minutes a few times a week. Really is their meditation. You’re fully present on your skateboard. You’re outdoors in the fresh air one. It’s, and then you’re surrounded by good people that are happy to see you succeed. Like it’s, it’s like once you’ve bought your skateboard, uh, it’s all free as well.

[00:50:05] So it’s, it’s kind of too good to be true. And the mindfulness program just brings that to people’s attention. Like, go to the local skate store, get yourself aboard, and then you’ve got this crazy, like really unbelievably effective mindfulness meditation you can do, and it’s skateboarding.

[00:50:26] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, I love that.

[00:50:27] That’s

[00:50:27] Josh Smith: brilliant. It’s crazy. It’s too good to be true, but it’s,

[00:50:30] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, and it’s also, like you say, a little bit of investment up front, but then it’s all. You know aside from the adolescent here or there, uh, so worth, worth the initial investment, uh, to, to access all those good things. Well, yeah, thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:50:46] I really appreciate your time. No worries at all. And having a really good chat about skateboarding. I’m learning so much about it. It’s, uh, yeah. It’s a really great thing. So thank you so much. That’s all

[00:50:57] Josh Smith: right. It’s good to come and talk about.

[00:51:00] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. It really is. Yeah. So have an awesome day.

[00:51:03] We’ll see you soon at Skate Park. .

[00:51:05] Josh Smith: Yes, I’m sure. Thank you so much for having

[00:51:07] Sophia Elliott: me on. Oh, always, always welcome. And, uh, if anyone’s looking for Josh, it’s Free Mind Skate school. I’ll put the links in the show notes and, uh, check out the website and see all the awesome things they do. If you’re not in South Australia or Adelaide, uh, just check out what you’ve got locally and, uh, you know, like Josh says, just head down to the skate park.

[00:51:29] Set your expectations in place, but go and have fun.

[00:51:33] Josh Smith: Perfect. Nailed it. .

[00:51:35] Sophia Elliott: Awesome. See you Josh. Thanks. So bye.

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