Interview by Scooter Newell
Article Category: Boardrider 1 Comment
I first met Josh Stundon in the summer of 2008 while he and his family were visiting from Ireland.
I approached him, introduced myself, and asked him if he skated. He told me he’d never tried it, but wanted to learn. We exchanged phone numbers and soon began meeting at the Cocoa Beach Skate Park to practice. I must admit that I was amazed by Josh’s determination and ability right from the start. The fact that Josh is blind made it even more amazing.
We began at square one, by walking around the park while Josh “looked” at everything with his hands, feeling each surface and, most likely, drawing a mental picture of how the park was shaped. As soon as we started, he was learning faster than most beginners. In those first days, he was Tic-Tacing, turning frontside and backside, riding down, turning on the banks and connecting some lines. To this day, I’ll swear that all I’ve ever done for Josh is talk to him and run next to him while he skates. He took the skateboard and showed all of us there that blind people really can see the beauty and fun the rest of us enjoy — and often take for granted — while skating.
His family owns a home in Cocoa Beach and it’s that time of year again: Josh is back! If you happen to run into the Stundon Family at one of the local skate parks, restaurants or shops, say “What’s up?” to Josh, The Resident’s newest Boardrider of the Month. He really is a talented skater. In fact, he rips!
Name: Josh Stundon
Hometown: Limerick, Ireland
Number of years skating: 1 year
Favorite place to skate: Cocoa Beach
Welcome back to Cocoa Beach, Josh. How long will you be in town?
I’ll be in town for two months.
Who do you travel with?
My family: My Dad, Donal; my Mum, Mary; my brother, Luka, and my twin sister, Robin.
What are some of your plans while you’re in Florida?
Skateboarding, swimming, working on my tan and monitoring the weather.
It was good to see you at the skate park again. When did you first get interested in skateboarding?
I first got interested in skateboarding when I heard the sound of the wheels while kids were skating back home in Limerick. I wanted to try it myself because they seemed to be having great fun.
Was it something you knew you could do?
No, but I’m willing to try anything.
Can you describe what goes through your mind or how you feel when you’re skating?
I feel happy when I’m skating; it makes me feel like I fit in with the other kids skating with me. Sometimes, when people see that I’m blind, they think I can’t participate in the things they do. But after all, I am a typical teenager and I like to try all the fun things just like them.
Does the balance come natural to you?
I had to work on that for a while, but I seem to have fairly good balance now.
What other hobbies or activities are you interested in?
I have an obsession with the weather here because our house got struck by lightning a few years ago and it made me realize what the weather can do. We don’t have the extremes of weather that you have here in the U.S.A.,. so I find it fascinating. I can keep track of weather conditions throughout the U.S. via the internet. I also love swimming and music — I like Pop and Rap music and I also like Irish music. I play the piano, and I also like bowling and rock climbing.
Where do you go to school?
I go to Castletroy College Secondary School in Limerick. It’s a mainstream school with 1,100 students and I’m the only blind student.
How do the kids at school react to you being there?
Lots of the kids are unsure of what to make of me until they get to know me. Some of them don’t want to take the time to get to know someone who’s different, but I’m a very friendly person and will talk to anyone.
What grade are you in? And what are your favorite subjects?
I’m in fifth year, which means that I have two years left at secondary school before going on to college. My favorite subjects are Geography, Music, Home Economics and Spanish.
Ah, que bueno! What kind of grades do you get?
I average As and Bs. I love to do well and I study very hard. It’s really hot in Florida this time of year.
How do you keep cool during the day?
I go to the pool a lot. Without air conditioning, it would be very hard to cope with the heat. The shops my Mother drags me into are air conditioned, though I don’t like shopping.
Do you ever play any practical jokes on people?
I was bored one day when a replacement doctor was filling in for my own doctor. He was checking my eyes and asked if I could see the light he was shining in into them. I thought I’d have a bit of fun with him and told him that I could see the light. He was getting very excited until my Mother told him I had no sight at all and that I was pulling his leg. My Mother asked me why I’d told him I could see, and I said “Could he not take a joke?” I didn’t get that doctor again.
If you could say one thing to educate readers about blind people, what would you tell them?
I’d tell them that blind people are the same as everybody else, and that people should look at ability, not disability. I have the same needs and wants as sighted people, it’s just that I can’t see, and need people to give me a bit of a break.
Thanks a lot for talking to us, Josh. You really are an inspiration for lots of people! Do you have any shout-outs?
I want to thank you, Scooter, because without you showing me how to skateboard, I’d still be listening to the sound of the wheels and not experiencing how to skate. Also, to the kids here at the Cocoa Beach Skate Park and Paradise Skate Park: Thanks for all your help and for making me feel very welcome. And thanks, Scooter, for the YouTube video. It’s a babe magnet.
Check out Josh on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJmx4QwTOC0, or search for “Blind Skateboarder: Josh Stundon”, or check it out below:
Interview by Scooter Newell; Photos by Donal Stundon and Scooter Newell