Skateistan is empowering kids and youth through skateboarding and education, using creative arts to teach a variety of topics including the environment, human rights, nutrition and cultural studies.
The non-profit organisation – which aimed children aged 5 to 17 with a focus on girls, children living with a disability, and children from low income backgrounds – now operates in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.
Skateistan was founded in 2007 by Australian skateboarder and researcher Oliver Percovic in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Oliver Percovic spent his first few months in Kabul talking to Afghans and foreigners about the attempts to rebuild the country after decades of war. With almost 70% of the population under the age of 25, he wondered why there were so few investments in Afghan youth at that time.
While Oliver Percovic worked in the day, he lent his skateboards to some Afghan teenagers, who got hooked on the feeling of the freedom it provided them. Skating around the streets in Kabul, they saw the pull that the skateboard had with youth of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities and genders. Skateboarding quickly created a community that overcame social divisions.
More than 10 years on, Skateistan has become an award-winning international NGO offering programs to children and youth such as Skate and Create, where students get to combine educational arts with skateboarding, learning both in the classroom and on a board. Other programs include Outreach, Back-to-School and Youth Leadership.
The purpose of Skateistan’s programs are not to breed a new generation of professional skateboarders but to give youth the opportunity to become “leaders for a better world”.
Pro-Skateboarder Tony Hawk said: “Skateistan’s not just about skating. It’s about giving people life skills and hope for their future.
“I support Skateistan because I believe skateboarding can be a catalyst for positive change especially among children.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea