May 17, 2023
This Mental Health Awareness Month, Kizik is proud to support the Carry On Foundation, the non-profit arm of Thread that teaches kids to “Carry On” by pairing two unlikely activities: mental resilience lessons and skateboarding.
According to Thread CEO and Carry On Co-Founder Colby Bauer, it works.
“Parents can testify that yes, this is helping. We’ve had so many parents come and say, ‘You know, I have been looking and trying so many things,’” Colby explained. “There’s something innate about skateboarding that kind of forces them to learn a different way. So for these parents to be able to say, ‘I believe that you saved my kid’s life; they were on suicide watch’... to feel like, ‘Ok, we’re on the right path and it’s working, and it’s only up from here,’ it brings so much hope and so much fulfillment.”
Serving Utah kids ages 4 to 18, the Carry On Foundation teaches mindset work, breathing exercises, self-talk strategies, mindfulness, and other mental skills during structured skateboarding lessons at its Provo facility, which will ultimately become part of the new Thread headquarters campus.
The youth program’s mission is to teach youth resilience skills and promote mental health through action sports and outdoor recreation.
According to Colby, skateboarding was the obvious starting point because of its low barrier to entry and year-round appeal. It’s also a personal passion that served as a mental and physical outlet for him during the pandemic.
“There’s so much therapy in movement and creativity,” he said.
How it works
Pairing high-level skateboarding with sports psychology, the Carry On program is a deliberate practice, according to Skate Program Director Dave Lowery.
Each 60-90 minute session is broken out into three zones: stretch, recharge, and play. This helps kids be mindful, intentional, and focused.
It’s built around four pillars of resilience: confidence, competence, connection, and character. Each session includes classroom learning time to teach relevant skills, then applies them to time on the board.
Dave describes the program as a proactive way to teach life skills that will help kids become mentally strong.
The origin story
It’s something Colby wishes he’d had as a kid.
“It’s my whole life in the making,” he said.
Colby told us the story of his difficult childhood—his mom battled alcoholism and experienced a “roller coaster of addiction,” leading to his parents’ divorce. Growing up, his sisters suffered from eating disorders and mental health issues.
Colby’s breaking point came in 2020, when his mom lost her job and relapsed during COVID. Afraid for her safety, he prayed she’d get arrested and hoped she didn’t wind up dead.
“My anxiety triggered this really bad stomach pain,” he explained. “Before the day even started: pain, and by nighttime it felt like someone was poking me with a spear in the ribs.”
He started seeing a therapist, taking medication, and skateboarding—a lot.
Colby, who describes himself as an eternal optimist, started to wonder what it all meant.
“What is the reason? Is there more to this? Is there something I’m completely missing?” he asked himself.
And so Carry On was born. It started as a marketing campaign at Thread—a message that promoted relentless progression and triumph over trial during a bleak time in the world.
He’d felt prompted to move into the space of mental health and addiction, and, along with his wife and co-founder McKenzie, knew it was time to give back. They weren’t sure where to start, but they “just leaned in,” Colby said.
“How can we equip these kids with the right mental skills and education so that when things happen, they know how to carry on?”
This was the question he and McKenzie asked themselves, and the answer came in the form of skateboarding.
The program’s premise is to “make sure the rising generation and their parents are well equipped when traumas and trials happen,” because, according to Colby, because it’s not a matter of if, but when.
What comes next
The Carry On Foundation has now been operating for nine months, and what we see today is only the beginning. Colby aims to build what he calls “the Disneyland for action sports and outdoor rec,” expanding into skating, surfing, snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, and mountain biking. His vision is to create community-based campuses that are safe, fun, and inviting.
In the immediate future, Carry On aims to open a second location in Utah. Eventually, he hopes to go global.
“Mental health is for everyone,” Colby said. “To build your mental health, you need practice, and you need tools, and that’s for everyone.”
Engaging the community
Colby and his team are now “rallying the brands around Utah to speak and be ambassadors for mental health.”
Here at Kizik, we’re all in.
We’ll be joining Thread and the Carry On Foundation for Skate Night on May 24, a community event honoring Mental Health Awareness Month and celebrating the foundation’s new facility, where we plan to surprise each member of the program with a pair of our skater-style Prague shoes.
It’s the least we can do to support a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts—and an organization born in our backyard that’s already making a powerful impact. It’s a partnership that Colby has welcomed.
“I love the fact that you guys are in business for more than just selling shoes,” Colby told us. “I like to align with other partners and brands that have that same mindset—you know, Kizik Cares.”
To learn more about the Carry On Foundation, visit carryon.org.
All images courtesy of Carry On Foundation