Ausnew Home Care | Brothers Abdul and Mo Syed are legally blind

Brothers Abdul and Mo Syed are legally blind but that hasn't stopped them taking up skateboarding

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When Abdul Syed isn't busy with his year 10 studies, he picks up his skateboard and heads outside to practice a new trick he has been trying to nail called the shove-it.

Abdul's 11-year-old brother Mo usually joins him, and the pair can be spotted at their local Canberra skate park on most sunny weekends.

It is impressive to see the pair taking on the ramps, not least because Abdul does so with a cane in hand.

"I can't really see anything much. It's basically just a blur, to be honest," Abdul said.

Abdul and Mo have cone-rod dystrophy — a genetic retinal disease that causes progressive blindness — and they were both considered legally blind from about the age of six.

Although the brothers can only see some outlines and shadows, that hasn't stopped them from enjoying sports like cricket, soccer and handball.

Two years ago, they decided to add skateboarding to their list of hobbies.

Boy wearing cap holding a skateboard.
Mo enjoys riding around the Belconnen skate park with his big brother on weekends. (ABC News: Rebecca Rose)

"I used to watch TV … I remember seeing a guy skateboarding and I thought 'that's really cool' so I asked my dad if he could buy me a skateboard and he's like 'okay sure'," Abdul said.

"He got me a skateboard and I tried riding and failed miserably.

"I didn't fall, but I did get a shock and I'm like, 'I'm not going to skateboard for the rest of my life'."

Teenage boy wearing sunglasses holding a skateboard.
Abdul is determined to keep learning new tricks on his skateboard. (ABC News: Rebecca Rose)

But after visiting his skateboarding cousin in Sydney, Abdul started riding "in about 20 minutes."

"At first I did say to my cousin, 'are you sure I'm going to be able to do this? I have a vision impairment'," Abdul recalled.

"He was like, 'that hasn't got anything to do with anything. Who cares if you've got a vision impairment, just go and do it. It's not that big of a deal, if other people can do it then so can you'.

"The next day we had to go to the grocery store and it wasn't walking distance so I just grabbed the skateboard … and then I just carried it around with me everywhere for like the next few months just to get good at riding."

Supportive parents, skateboarding community

Abdul uses a cane to help him map out the ramps and edges of the skate park.

"I'm judging the ramp: I walk up it and then I walk down it just to see how it kind of falls in and then I use my cane to feel around and measure it out, getting every angle I can, trying to find that spot that I'm going to go up," he said.

Two boys skateboarding at a skate park.
Abdul and Mo say other skateboarders at Belconnen skate park have been teaching them new skills. (ABC News: Rebecca Rose)

The pair found their fellow skateboarders very welcoming when they first went to the Belconnen skate park in Canberra's north last year.

"We get a lot of respect and a lot of people actually helped us out," Abdul said.

"They would go out of their way to coach us on how to improve. They were really helpful."

"It feels really good. You just feel like you're part of the skating community," Mo added.

A person's feet on a skateboard beside a cane.
Abdul uses a cane to navigate the ramps at his local skate park. (ABC News: Rebecca Rose)

And their "really proud" father, Anwar Syed, is their number one fan.

"I'm amazed, I'm very, very happy for them," he said.

"I'm really lucky to have these children.

Mr Syed said he and his wife had always encouraged the boys to "do what they want in life."

"We really don't try to stop them," he said.

'Mindset is everything'

Learning to skateboard has not been without its falls and injuries, but that's "just part of skateboarding."

"When I was trying to learn a trick called the shove-it, I fell nearly 10 times in a row but I was fine," Mo said.

"They say practice makes perfect."

Two boys holding skateboards.
Brothers Abdul and Mo hope to inspire other visually impaired young people to take up skateboarding. (ABC News: Rebecca Rose)

For Adbul, he continues to approach any setback with the same positive attitude that led him to skateboard in the first place.

"Mindset is everything. If you say you can't do it, then you're never going to be able to do it.

"If you say you can do it, doubt all of the doubters … then you can do it, 100 per cent.

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