The Daily Northwestern

Medill student promotes safe skateboarding in popular YouTube video

Sophomore Tommy Carroll stars in a video for the Be Brave, Be Safe campaign started by sporting goods store Perry. The video documents Carroll’s experiences as a blind skateboarder and has over 100,000 views.

Source: Youtube

Sophomore Tommy Carroll stars in a video for the Be Brave, Be Safe campaign started by sporting goods store Perry. The video documents Carroll’s experiences as a blind skateboarder and has over 100,000 views.

Tal Axelrod, Reporter

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A Medill sophomore is promoting wearing protective gear while skateboarding in a YouTube video with currently more than 100,000 hits.

Tommy Carroll, an avid skateboarder, traveled to Amsterdam over winter break to make the video with Dutch production company, the Odd Shop. The video, which was posted Dec. 28, is part of a campaign entitled “Be brave, be safe” and features Carroll skateboarding as he narrates about the thrill he obtains from the sport.

Carroll has been blind since he was 2 years old due to bilateral retinoblastoma, cancer of the retinas. He started skateboarding when he was 10 and uses sound to determine whether or not obstacles are in front of him.

“I’m always constantly using the sound of my wheels to check if there’s anything in my way, give my sense of direction, like all that kind of stuff,” he said in the video.

Carroll, who called himself “a fairly accomplished skateboarder,” understands the importance of protective pads in promoting his safety and attributes much of his success to them.

“Falling is a skill you get good at, just the same as getting good at the sport itself,” Carroll said in the video.

Carroll said wearing protective pads makes him feel more comfortable about doing more challenging tricks.

“For me, protective gear is the difference of being absolutely terrified while skateboarding and being completely confident,” Carroll said in the video.

While Carroll said he is pleased about the success of the video, he is concerned views are not a good indicator the message of protection is being communicated. He said he hopes people will not only be inspired to begin skateboarding but also to wear protective pads while doing so. Carroll said he feels this is — a major issue in skateboarding, as wearing protective gear is heavily stigmatized.

“If you watch any big skateboard team, they’re not wearing pads,” he said. “They’re just going out and doing it.”

In addition to skateboarding, Carroll is very passionate about playing the drums. On campus, he is a member of music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha and plays on the Northwestern jazz band. He also gives drum lessons for Arts and Music Education for Special Education Students.

He said he draws his inspiration to push his boundaries from a desire to exceed the limits others inherently set on blind people.

“So much of my life has been spent trying to prove people wrong, which is kind of a sad thing,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s friend Corinne Chin said he is very modest about his achievements.

“Tommy is just an incredibly accomplished and talented guy ,and he’s really down to earth about it,” the Medill senior said.

Carroll is also very relaxed, said his friend Gideon Resnick.

“He doesn’t let things stress him out very often,” the Medill sophomore said.

Carroll manifests his determination to exceed expectations in the video.

“I think everybody should know that everything happens for a reason, and that there’s always a way to overcome an obstacle if you want it enough,” he said.

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