The skate park can be an intimidating place, especially if it's full of teenage boys smoking and swearing and you're a six-year-old girl who wants to get some practice in. That's what happened to Jeanean Thomas' daughter Peyton as she approached their local park in southern Ontario, after plucking up the courage to get on a board after months of wanting to.
When her daughter got on the ramp one of the boys approached her. But it wasn't to tell her this is only for older kids and to get lost, instead he took the time out to teach her some essential skills—and she gladly listened.
The mom was so touched by this act of kindness and generosity, she wrote an open letter and posted it to twitter, thanking the guy for taking the time to share some of his knowledge.
Here's what the letter says:
You’re probably about 15 years old, so I don’t expect you to be very mature or for you to want a little girl on your skate ramp for that matter. What you don’t know is that my daughter has been wanting to skateboard for months. I actually had to convince her that skateboarding wasn’t for just for boys. So when we walked up to the skate park and saw that it was full of teenaged boys who were smoking and swearing, she immediately wanted to turn around and go home. I secretly wanted to go too because I didn’t want to have to put on my mom voice and exchange words with you. I also didn’t want my daughter to feel like she had to be scared of anyone, or that she wasn’t entitled to that skate park just as much as you were. So when she said, “Mom it’s full of older boys,” I calmly said, “So what, they don’t own the skate park.”
She proceeded to go down the ramp in spite of you and your friends flying past her and grinding rails beside her. She only had two or three runs in before you approached her and said “Hey, excuse me …” I immediately prepared to deliver my “She’s allowed to use this park just as much as you guys” speech when I heard you say, “Your feet are wrong. Can I help you?” You proceeded to spend almost an hour with my daughter showing her how to balance and steer, and she listened to you – a feat not attained by most adults.
You held her hand and helped her get up when she fell down and I even heard you tell her to stay away from the rails so that she wouldn’t get hurt. I want you to know that I am proud that you are part of my community, and I want to thank you for being kind to my daughter, even though your friends made fun of you for it. She left the skate park with a sense of pride and with the confidence that she can do anything, because of you.
After Jeanean posted the letter it quickly went viral, because the internet loves random acts of kindness second only to a virtual lynching. Local Ontario paper the Cambridge Times tracked down this kind stranger, and unveiled him as 20-year-old Ryan Carney.
“I could tell that she had no idea how to properly stand on the board,” he told the Cambridge Times about helping out Peyton. “Right before she went, I went up to her and said, ‘Put your feet here and bend your knees – this is how you balance’.”
Although the internet and media has raised him to the status of unsung hero of our age, it came naturally to Carney to help out a little girl who was trying her hand at a sport that he not only practised, but also coached.
"The day of it, I didn’t think much of it to be honest. I don’t really know why it’s a big deal. I went up there just simply to be nice,” Carney explained.
“If I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, and I was in a place that could be intimidating at that age, I’d want someone to help me. When you put a smile on someone else’s face, it’s infectious. If you do something nice for someone, something nice will happen to you."