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“They come for skateboarding. They stay for education”
Skateistan builds trust among youth and develops
their confidence, leadership, and life skills.
Since 2007, Skateistan has grown from a handful of students to over 400 a week, with two project locations in Afghanistan: Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. Also, they’ve expanded to bring skateboard-based development programming to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and are starting work in South Africa.
Fans say that Skateistan builds courage, confidence, creativity and self-expression. At Skateistan, students mix skateboarding with education and creative art like spray-painting, visual arts, break-dancing, and DJing.
Skateistan works with youth ages 5-18. More than 50% of their students
are street-working children, and more than 40% are girls!
“Half of the people in Afghanistan are under the age of 16,” says Skatistan founder Oliver Percovich. “70% are under the age of 25. I skateboarded in the streets of Kabul and Afghans were fascinated; they’d never seen anything like it before. Both boys and girls wanted to try out the skateboard. It really shocked me to see the role that women play in society. Most women didn’t have jobs; most girls didn’t go to school.There weren’t any women drivers or girls riding bicycles. All the popular sports were definitely things that boys could do; but girls couldn’t.”
“I realized Skateboarding is a Loophole. It was so new that nobody had had a chance to say that girls couldn’t do it yet.” – Oliver Percovich, Australian Skateboarder
Bonus: Watch this excellent TedTalk from Skateistan founder Oliver Percovich>
“Skateboarding is a common language. It’s your art form. It’s your voice.”
– Tony Hawk, former professional skateboarder
“It’s like you’re communicating without words.”
– Holly Lyons, professional skateboarder
“When we’re skateboarding, we’re all the same.”
– Oliver Percovich, Australian skateboarder
Pro skateboarder Jamie Thomas says:
“Skateboarding is a tool for peace. I know it brings people together.
Wherever you travel ~ if people are skateboarding, they like you regardless
of where you’re from or what you do or what you look like.”
“Out of virtually nothing. Out of one skateboard on the ground and a couple of excited kids, skateboarding is now the largest sport for girls in the country,” says founder Oliver Percovich. There’s nowhere else where 300 girls a week come and skateboard, anywhere in the world!”
Watch “Wheels to Grow” – Skateistan Cambodia
“The thing that impressed me the most is the energy the kids have, they try and try, and fall down–and their faces are always smiling,” says professional skateboarder Javier Mendizabal. “Also the way they hang out and skate together; they are really respectful with each other and are really supportive. Everybody’s celebrating and happy; it’s all about having fun.”
Skateistan’s project sites each feature a skatepark and classrooms. It appeals particularly to GIRLS who are often socially excluded from participating in traditional sports, particularly in Afghanistan and Cambodia.
Want to help Skateistan empower youth through skateboarding and education?
4GGL thanks Skateistan for this inspiring story!
Skateistan is an NGO using skateboarding as a tool for empowerment. They work in Afghanistan and Cambodia, and have a network of volunteers and supporters around the world. Meet the people of Skatistan >