Push to Heal

Submitted on Wednesday, 03/22/2023 - 4:24 pm

About Push to Heal 

Vision: Skateboarding as a tool to support healing through regulation, connection and development.  

In 2015, Hull received a donation to build the the Matt Banister Memorial Skatepark on our SW Campus.  That donation, along with the lens provided by Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model (NM), highlights skateboarding as an activity that supports the needs of the population that Hull serves. The creation of the Push to Heal program led to skateboard-based opportunities as a means of engaging a number of youth and enriching the treatment being provided. The Push to Heal program also contributed to a deeper understanding of the impact of skateboarding on healing as well as the development of best practices in the international social skateboarding community. Push to Heal is part of Hull’s Pathways to Prevention: A Centre for Childhood Trauma. 

The Therapeutic Value of Skateboarding

Children that come to Hull often have histories of trauma and marginalization. They come to Hull with underdeveloped social skills and have had few opportunities to participate in rewarding recreational activities. Skateboarding provides a unique and alternative approach to emotional regulation, education, development, and healing.

The impact that occurs in the context of skateboarding is aligned with what we have learned from the Neurosequential Model approach. Youth on skateboards build their skills and confidence in a step-by-step sequential manner which allows them to begin to grow their social skills, their confidence, and their ability to manage themselves and their emotions.  Preliminary data from a study done in partnership with the Mathison Centre shows that skateboarding decreases psychological distress, increases emotion regulation, and self efficacy (see below for more detailed information). Once the children at Hull have learned to skateboard, they have the capacity to continue to utilize this pro-social and regulating activity throughout their lives. 

Push to Heal and the Neurosequential Model

Push To Heal from Matt Allen on Vimeo.


SafeTALK and Skate: safeTALK and Skate. A Suicide Alertness Training Event 

On September 11, Hull Services and the “Push to Heal Program”, the Center for Suicide Prevention, and the “Why So Sad? Campaign” collaborated to promote positive mental health and suicide alertness training to create a suicide safer local skateboarding community.

Members of the local skateboarding community were invited to attend a safeTALK training and learn ways that they can support individuals in the community who may be thinking about suicide.

We hope that this event will be a catalyst for our local skate community to continue to take steps towards positive mental health and becoming a suicide safer community.

PUSH TO HEAL: PILOT PROJECT: Final Evaluative Report Prepared for Hull Services: Skateboard Research

To build knowledge around the potential relationship between skateboarding and youth mental health, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a pilot project at Hull Services that combined skateboarding and NMT for youth affected by maltreatment. The research team was a collaboration between the University of Calgary O’Brien Institute for Public Health, The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education and the University of Calgary Social Work department.

Obstacle(s) To TreatmentObstacle(s) to Treatment 

For a long time, Market Collective in Calgary has done an incredible job of supporting small businesses, building a diverse community, and developing creative ways that members of that community can engage with each other. One of the ways that has been achieved is by setting up a temporary skate park at the market, which is curated by Everett Tetz and was painted by Dark Corners Tattoo.

As an addition to the park, we were asked to design an obstacle that could be used as a part of treatment for high needs kids. With the help of an amazing team, the obstacle was constructed, skated, and we put together a short film demonstrating and articulating how and why obstacles can be designed both to skate and as a part of treatment.

Our hope is that this information will support the incredible work being done locally and around the world through skateboarding.

Push to Heal Collaborations in the Community 

Free Skate Magazine interview (2020):

Push to Heal’s Joel Pippus is interviewed by Arthur Derrien, Editor at Europe’s Free Skateboard Magazine, about Hull’s use of skateboarding in combination with Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model and the impact it is having.


Nike SB Why So Sad Comic: https://www.nikesb.com/whysosad-comic

This Nike SB x Why So Sad? comic was illustrated by Jon Horner and made in consultation with Dr. Bruce Perry, the Centre for Healing and Justice Through Sport, and Push To Heal. Through John Rattray’s story and the lens provided by the Neurosequential Model, it invites people into a conversation about trauma, mental health, suicide and why skateboarding and connection to community can be therapeutic.


What Flamingo 3: What Flamingo 3 (an all girls skate festival) on Vimeo 

Push To Heal hosted 100% Skate Club for What Flamingo 3: an all girls skate festival.


Skateistan Interview – Dropping In: Joel Pippus, School Transition Counselor at Hull Services tells us how skateboarding can help children to heal from trauma | by Skateistan | Medium

Push to Heal’s Joel Pippus’ interview with Skateistan which talks about how skateboarding can help children heal from trauma.



Push to Heal’s Joel Pippus is interviewed by Ben Komins,  writer at Jenkem Magazine


How Can Skateboarding Benefit Your Mind?

Push to Heal’s Joel Pippus was interviewed for Red Bull Skateboarding’s Pushing Forward episode on how skateboarding can benefit your mind. Watch the full video below.

Support Push to Heal 

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