(NEW YORK) — João Vicente is a viral sensation. A video of the 7-year-old skateboarding with the help of his mom has more than 12 million views on Twitter.
João rides an adaptive skateboard, created by Ricardo Almeida, a skateboarder and dad who created it so his daughter could ride with him.
That invention was eventually adopted by the organization Skate Anima, which is how João came to use it.
“João was born and raised as a typical child,” his mom, Lau Patrón, told ABC News’ Good Morning America.
She and João live in Brazil in a town called Porto Alegre, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. But when João was not quite 2 years old, something happened.
“At 1 year and 8 months his body collapsed. We found that he has a rare autoimmune syndrome — SHUa,” she said. “He suffered a severe stroke due to the crisis of the syndrome and it was there that he got cerebral palsy.”
Patrón said João, however, always wanted to skateboard.
“He was always the happier, curious boy and liked adrenaline. The dream of skateboarding was old. And the stroke has not changed that,” she said.
So with the the help of the Skate Anima project, his dream came true.
“They cater to many children with various types of disabilities and have found suitable adaptations for each of them,” Patron said. “So that they can feel. It is a very powerful and beautiful work. It is necessary. “
Patrón is a best-selling author, diversity activist and TEDx speaker. She is passionate about her son, whom she called “an amazing, brave, funny boy.”
João now rides a skateboard with Skate Anima once a month.
“I love sports and I love my son, who loves to experience the world and life so damn much. He’s a boy like any other,” Patron said.
Her message to others: Inclusion is not a favor.
“What tools are we building to make the world belongs to everyone?” she said. “How long will we accept the absurd? Kids growing up suffocated by a world that pretends not to see them? We need to change our point of view — understand that places that don’t welcome everyone are disabled, ideas are disabled, planning, education, design. Not people.”
She hopes the joy her son experienced in the video “wakes up” other people.
“I think it is so thrilling to see a boy like João skateboarding, happy, full of life, because we live in a sick society where we often forget the purpose of being here,” she said. “I am so grateful and touched by the love that is coming to us. I have said that love, as a lens and as a filter, is our most technological tool, but one we know the least to use. May João’s smile wake up other people. Diversity is our strength.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.