In even the most impoverished reaches of the globe skateboarding has begun to positively impact the lives of an unfortunate population thanks largely to the independent, non-governmental organization known as Skateistan.
Based in the war-torn town of Kabul, Afghanistan, Skateistan was founded on the belief that a combination of skateboarding and education could be used as a platform to break down social boundaries and engage with the struggling community.
The program aims to benefit Afghan youth by striving for equality among its participants. Boys and girls alike, from all ethnicities, abilities, and social classes, are provided the opportunity to develop skills in cross-cultural interaction, education, and personal empowerment.
Students are able develop a curriculum based around skills which they deem most important, with the help of a dedicated group of teachers and volunteers. Past lessons have been based around topics such as healthy habits, civic responsibility, information technology, the arts, and languages.
Skateistan is evidence of the positive effects that skateboarding can have if properly incorporated within a troubled community. Through the help of the program many of the social biases which have stood in the way of Afghan progress are beginning to weaken their hold on the local people. We can only hope for future success for the program and that others will someday follow in their footsteps.
The idea for Skateistan was spurred by Oliver Percovich who first visited Kabul in 2007. Quickly realizing that the local boys and girls were eager to skate, he stretched out the use of just 3 skateboards among the children. He started by giving skateboard lessons in an empty fountain in town. The program now reaches out to more than 350 students.