Wednesday 7 October 2020

From Homeless to Healed: How a 10,000km Skateboarding Adventure Saved One Woman’s Life


From Homeless to Healed: How a 10,000km Skateboarding Adventure Saved One Woman’s Life
7th October, London, UK: Skateboarder Jenny Schauerte implores those suffering from depression to 'get on board' this World Mental Health Day after a skate expedition spanning 10,000kms across Europe saved her life.

Following the sudden death of her father and a damaging relationship, Jenny (29), a world ranking downhill skateboarder, lost her sense of purpose in life. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and found herself struggling to get out of bed in the morning. She lost her job and subsequently her flat in London and was forced to live in her VW transit van. She says, 
"I felt completely numb, afraid and alone".

She was surviving off a crazy dream that one day she would be given an opportunity to escape life as she knew it. On meeting entrepreneur Marchella De Angelis, Jenny's dream became a reality.  Marchella, who was also struggling to find a sense of purpose at the time, convinced Jenny that she needed to embark on a daredevil skateboarding adventure that has never been done before. They mapped out a skateboarding route to Sumela, an ancient monastery in the Pontic Mountains dating back to AD386. Jenny would travel by board down many of the roads and aim to be the first to skate the hair raising road to Sumela.

After months of letting herself go and not skating, Jenny was inspired to get her fitness back and get back on the board. She said, 
"This was the trigger I needed to pull myself together. I had always been wild and adrenaline driven but my depression and living situation had backed me into a corner of exhaustion and self destruction."

Jenny enlisted 4 other female downhill skaters to be her travel partners. They called themselves 'The Woolf Women' and travelled from London to Sumela in Jenny's van, Bimbo, with nothing but their skateboards and basic essentials. Marchella's camera crew captured the girls skating open roads, reaching speeds of 55mph on their boards and having to negotiate traffic and hairpin bends along the way. Jenny was elated to achieve her goal of being the first to skate down to the ancient monastery of Sumela, where she lit a candle for her father.

Jenny said, "It's hard to put into words the peace I feel when I'm skating. I know that sounds crazy because we're going so fast, but my head is completely clear and I feel like my mind can breathe. It doesn't matter if you're travelling at speeds like us or just getting on the board for the first time. Each small step is an achievement and you're motivated to go out there and get better. Being able to feel this every day on our journey to Sumela reminded me what is important and dragged me out of my dark hole. I believe it saved my life."

A recent study by Instinct Laboratory and Flo Skatepark has shown that involvement in skateboarding can reduce stress, increase confidence and provide escapism. A rise of 70,000 people in the UK participating in the sport since the beginning of the pandemic shows that Jenny is not alone in valuing skateboarding therapy so highly. 

James Hope-Gill, CEO at Skateboard England and Skateboard GB said, “The research is really reassuring to hear and is great insight into the additional benefits skateboarding provide. In a year when mental health issues are at an all time high, it’s positive to see that people are able to help combat it with something they already enjoy doing”. 

Jenny now owns her own graphic business called JennyJungle, serving big clients like Riedel, Swarovski and Ritzenhoff. She lives in a flat in Innsbruck and goes to the mountains to skate at least two times a week to clear her head. She holds the Longboard Girls Crew community very close to her heart and hopes to move in with The Woolf Women in the near future.

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