The West Philly medical worker that rolled into the national spotlight by starting Skate University
In the long run, Cohen Thompson wants to establish a trade school to get kids more interested in STEM careers.
Cohen Thompson always had a love for rollerskating ever since his family taught him at a very young age.
Now, the physician assistant is turning his hobby into a learning experience for children in the Philadelphia area.
“Rollerskating has got me off of the streets and kept my mind on just being a kid,” he said. “I want to do the same for other kids.”
Thompson’s next ambition is to become a leader and a mentor for children around the city who need an outlet, and that’s why he founded his own skate-based nonprofit called Skate University in 2009.
Its effort into the community both promotes skating as a hobby for youth and promotes health and wellness through physical activity.
“Rollerskating is also great for your health,” said Thompson.
On top of teaching kids how to rollerskate, he provides lunches for kids who stop by for skating lessons.
“These kids come over and don’t have to worry about anything. Parents come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know how I was going to feed my kids today,’ it’s only right, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thompson said.
Before Thompson decided to go into the medical field, he was a professional basketball player in Canada and was part of the 76ers Dunk Team.
“I was also a teacher for many years at the Boys and Girls Club in North Philadelphia,” he said.
Thompson has been vocal about the ongoing violence in the city, so he wanted to do something to help families help their kids stay off of the streets and learn a new sport.
“I bought about 100 pairs of skates, we have one skating rink and a skate park that just been renovated,” he said.
He believes that skating is for everyone, even children who might have learning disabilities or aren’t interested in competitive sports.
“There are kids who might not be able to play soccer or football, maybe they are on the autistic spectrum and can’t properly function in a crowd, but rollerskating isn’t a competition, it helps character building,” said Thompson.
In addition to the selfless acts of kindness that Thompson displays, his “University” also offers self-esteem workshops for kids.
“It’s very important to show kids how confident they can be and a lot of kids in Philly can find themselves in the wrong crowd,” he said.
Eventually, he also wants to establish CPR and BLS classes to get 600 people certified.
“I don’t believe in taking from our own people, we all have to help each other,” Thompson said.
In the long run, he has big dreams of establishing a trade school so local kids can become more involved in S.T.E.M careers.
“I want people to have a gateway program to enter into the medical field,” Thompson said. “Instead of kids growing up and counting the number of drugs, they can count the number of CC’s of medicine to give a person during surgery when they become a medical doctor.”
Apart from being a mentor for children in Philly, Thompson wants children to know that they can do whatever they want and their dreams are limitless.
“The only way you would fail is if you never try,” he said.
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