KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A skateboarder in Sevier County credits the activity with changing his life, and mental health professionals say having hobbies can have a positive impact on one’s well-being.
Isaac Blackburn recently entered Tony Hawk’s Skatepark Hero Contest, with hopes to give kids in Sevier County access to skateboarding. The winner of the contest will get a chance to meet with Hawk and receive $10,000. Blackburn plans to put that money towards buying skateboards for kids, if he wins.
He said his motivation for entering the contest was how skateboarding has impacted his life.
“Really, skateboarding is one of those things where it teaches you how to recover from failure like 90% of the time you spend on your board is spent failing. The other 10% where you make it, it kind of makes it all special in the end,” Blackburn said.
He said skateboarding as a kid shaped his childhood.
“Growing up skateboarding was one of those things where I’ve always been a weird, off-color kid and I didn’t really feel like I had a close-knit group of friends until we discovered skateboarding together, because skateboarding is one of those communities where it does not matter what your background is or where you came from, if you are on a skateboard and you’re next to somebody else on a skateboard, you’re sharing something,” Blackburn said.
Being around people with common interests can help improve your mental health, according to Shannon Dow with the Helen Ross McNabb Center.
“To feel that they’re part of a community, that they feel connected with individuals that they have hobbies with, they share different strengths with, and can continue to enhance those strengths through these social connections, so social connectedness is really important for nurturing one’s mental health,” Dow said.
Outside of social activities, any hobby can be beneficial to someone’s mental health.
“There are other hobbies such as gardening, painting, or listening to music, those are also shown to reduce anxiety, to reduce depression and reduce stress,” she said.
Blackburn hopes other kids can find the love for skateboarding that he has.
“I’ve seen skateboarding straight save people, whether it’s just through distraction or finding a better purpose to do with your time,” he said.
Blackburn also hopes to build a skatepark in Sevier County with the help of Tony Hawk. Those who want to support Blackburn can vote for him here.