All images by Skateistan
How great is this? Skateistan. Someone posted this on Facebook this morning and I have had it open in my browser all day, waiting til I had time to watch it properly and read more.
Skateistan has projects in Afghanistan and Cambodia teaching kids between 5 and 18 to skate and play other sports, with a healthy dose of education thrown in. 40% of the kids they work with are girls. 50% of the kids involved are street workers.
Australian Oliver Percovich set up the project back in 2007 with only ten skateboards. He’d arrived in Kabul to a throng of skate-curious kids and it made sense to teach them to skate. He says: ‘These kids are trying to break the shackles of old mentalities in Kabul. They are not scared. If they hadn’t come after me every day, I would’ve left a long time ago.’
Skateistan encourages all kinds of good stuff like fun, play, learning, trust, fitness, adventure, health, joy, confidence, respect, friendship and a sense of being part of something great.
It’s a tricky process, getting girls involved because Afghan girls can’t be seen with men in public until after adolesence. Skateistan’s education co-ordinator says:
‘Parents allow girls on a number of conditions, the most important of which is that they practice in a female-only environment. We have classes for boys and girls separately.’
This is an amazingly valuable project in freaking dangerous territory. It’s really fantastic that this team of committed people are helping kids to learn, play, belong and grow.
But that’s not all. There’s a really great Skateistan book that should be on your Christmas wishlist. Buy/see that here.