Skateistan is an innovative, non-profit organization that uses skateboarding as a tool for empowering youth to provide opportunities for education and creative thinking that help break the cycle of poverty and exclusion.
With programs in Afghanistan and Cambodia, Skateistan has proven that skateboarding cannot only bridge cultural barriers, but it can also be used as a tool to build self-confidence and self worth in children who are living on the fringe in these societies.
“I like to go high on the ramps. When I’m up there I feel free, like I’m flying. I like that feeling a lot.” – Hanifa, 14
Skateistan targets kids ages 5-18, focusing on girls and working children. Skateboarding especially appeals to girls, as they are more likely to be socially excluded from participating in traditional sports. Getting girls on a skateboard has been a priority since Skateistan’s very beginning, and although girls aren’t allowed to bicycle in Afghanistan, they are allowed to skateboard!
In addition to skateboarding lessons, the organization offers a variety of programs supporting education, arts and leadership, with the ultimate goal of getting girls out of danger, off the street and enrolled or re-enrolled into the public school system.
Madina, a 14 year-old girl in the program says, “Through skateboarding I started dreaming again. Knowing that I can do something well and having teachers that support me helped me to believe in myself.”
All children have a right to play, but Skateistan is doing more than just bringing smiles to these kids’ faces, they are saving lives and creating leaders, all while balancing on four wheels.
You can connect with Skateistan on Facebook and Twitter. Photos courtesy Skateistan