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Dan Mancina: The blind skateboarder challenging misconceptions about sight and sport


Dan Mancina is a skateboarder whose jaw-dropping movies rack up a whole lot of 1000’s of views.

He has a loyal following on Instagram, all desperate to see him touchdown jumps and all kinds of skillful tips.

Mancina additionally occurs to be blind – and movies of him utilizing his white cane as he boards evokes curiosity and admiration from followers world wide.

“I’ve misplaced my imaginative and prescient slowly all through my life,” he informed CNN Sport, explaining that it wasn’t till his mid-20s that his situation – a neurodegenerative eye illness referred to as retinitis pigmentosa – began to have an effect on his dayto-day life, stopping him from driving and biking.

“Ultimately [I] bought to the purpose the place I didn’t suppose I may depart the home with no particular person, like a human information or anyone, a pal. I couldn’t even stroll round my very own block and stuff like that,” the 35-year-old added.

Mancina, who started skating at age seven, has been slowly losing his vision throughout his life.

The 35-year-old spent a few years trying to figure what he as a blind person could do -- before finding his way back to skateboarding.

“I’m making an attempt to determine “what’s a blind particular person? What can a blind particular person do?”

The Michigan native began skating at seven, however bought into it extra severely at 13, creating a love for the game which he says helps him specific himself.

“You are able to do it by your self if you wish to, or with buddies, and simply form of be in your individual little world,” he mentioned.

Mancina, who had desires of being a pro-skateboarder, stopped skating for a few years. This era, he mentioned, was his “lowest level.”

However orientation and mobility coaching helped him acquire confidence and, slowly, he returned to doing what he beloved, fishing, spending time outside and, in fact, skateboarding.

“I actually thought skateboarding was performed and out of my life and in my previous,” the American, who counts Adidas as one in all his sponsors, mentioned.

“I didn’t suppose I’d have the ability get the identical issues out of it that I did once I was sighted, or be capable of actually progress or push myself.”

He began filming quick movies of his progress and posting on Instagram and Youtube and met a brand new group of individuals to skate with, gaining sufficient confidence to return to the streets.

“It simply took me really making an attempt it, and doing it after which realizing I can get these issues out of it,” he added.

“I’m going by way of these realizations about my blindness and myself and realizing: I’m nonetheless the identical particular person and I can nonetheless do all of the issues that I really like. I simply needed to do them slightly bit totally different.”

Now, Mancina needs to problem misconceptions round blindness and create areas the place visually impaired folks can benefit from the sport.

Mancina found his way back to skateboarding years after losing his sight.

He films his videos in part to challenge miconceptions around what visually impared people can achieve.

“I wished to construct the primary totally adaptive skatepark designed round visible impairments, so I began a basis referred to as ‘Keep Pushing Incorporated’ and have been elevating cash ever since [for] a number of years now,” he mentioned.

The park, set to be inbuilt Mancina’s house state of Michigan, will use adaptive strategies, comparable to rising the scale of obstacles, including distinction to obstacles and utilizing auditory cues to make it protected and accessible.

“[The] ledges are actually lengthy and flat bars are actually lengthy, the quarter pipes are actually broad.

“So there’s form of extra time to determine the place you might be within the park, discover your manner round, simpler to get on and off rails for wheelchairs and utilizing numerous distinction too, is necessary for individuals who have slightly little bit of residual imaginative and prescient between the ramps and the bottom,” he defined.

Mancina has raised round $40,000 for the park, and after pouring concrete this fall, hopes to be working skate workshops by subsequent spring and summer season.

With a spacious structure and tactile floor, Mancina is building the park with blind colleges, organizations, rehabilitation facilities, and different adaptive sports activities organizations in thoughts.

“They need to have entry to every little thing, similar to each different little one,” he mentioned. “Skateboarding is simply a type of issues – you recognize, it’s not for everyone, however there are going to be these children who wish to skate.

“I’m honored and hopefully I could be a voice for our neighborhood. That’s why I began my social media stuff, to vary the notion of the visually impaired.

“I seen an enormous distinction in the best way folks handled me as a sighted particular person in comparison with a blind particular person,” he mentioned, explaining that some folks have decrease expectations of what a blind particular person can obtain.

“Some folks suppose it’s loopy and never doable to skate. It’s not that loopy … in my head. It’s simply, I take pleasure in skating. So I’m going to do it. So I encourage folks to suppose that manner – don’t let different folks dictate your life and determine what you may and may’t do. , it’s all as much as you.”

As for the longer term, Mancina has a number of plans.

“Primary is simply skating so long as I can and preserve with the ability to dwell this life for so long as I can,” he mentioned.

“Preserve filming components [is goal] primary, after which preserve progressing, all that stuff, after which working in direction of getting skateboarding in the Paralympics.”

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