(WSVN) - A South Florida group is helping troubled teens, and they’re literally on a roll. Karen Hensel introduces us to the man behind Paradise Skating in tonight’s 7 Spotlight.
It’s time to lace up those skates.
CJ Morrison: “It’s just different styles, the culture.”
CJ Morrison started rollerskating two years ago. He says if he hadn’t picked up this new hobby, his life would have turned out very differently.
CJ Morrison: “I honestly feel like I would not be here. It’s just life can be so overwhelming.”
But that was before he met Jeff Sylla, the founder of Paradise Skating in Miami Gardens.
Jeff Sylla: “So what I teach is just balance, rhythm.”
Jeff has been skating since he was 19. He’s now 44.
Three years ago, he realized his skills on skates would catch the attention of teens and young adults. He saw many of them going through tough times.
Jeff Sylla: “They’re in an environment that’s not really healthy, and they tend to join gangs. I encourage those youth, say, ‘Hey, why don’t you join a skate crew?'”
Jeff’s approach worked, and he started teaching others how to skate.
Those lessons taught students to skate with style and helped them change their lives.
Jeff Sylla: “It starts building that confidence, and then we just get higher and higher and higher and higher.”
The skating skills he has learned over the years with Jeff has turned his life around.
CJ Morrison: “So I am truly humbled and grateful to be in the presence and an acquaintance of Jeff because he’s shown me a lot on and off the wood floor.”
Genae Pearson joined Paradise Skating after a chance meeting at a skating event in Orlando.
At the time, she says she was going through a dark moment in life.
Genae Pearson: “My grandmother, she had just passed away, and I was just working and going home. I wasn’t doing anything else, and I almost felt like I was just drowning.”
Even though Genae doesn’t live in South Florida, she knew she had to be a part of the crew, even if she had to drive from Orlando to Miami Gardens to do it.
Genae Pearson: “He let me in, and I got to practice with them almost every week. I just met amazing people, amazing friends.”
The Paradise Skating team travels to different cities and states to perform at skate parties. It’s an opportunity for them to show off their skills and meet someone who might need a mentor.
Jeff Sylla: “They’ll come up and say, ‘Hey, can I join? How do I learn?'”
According to Jeff, all they need is an open mind, a willingness to work hard and the determination to change their lives.
Jeff Sylla: “And I think the ultimate goal is for every one of these kids and young adults to know is you have a purpose.”
With a little guidance from Jeff and a pair of skates, they can roll into a more positive future.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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