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Empowering children and youth through skateboarding and education worldwide.
Oliver Percovich, Founder and Executive Director
Skateistan's purpose is to empower children and youth in conflict-affected and fragile states, where education and recreation opportunities are compromised. Skateistan is able to engage with children through Skateboarding because it is accessible to all, satisfyingly challenging and has the ability to unite people from different backgrounds. Through the nature of skateboarding the skater continuously learns to set goals and conquer his or her personal fear. As a result, each success builds confidence, raises self-esteem and improves decision-making skills.
Skateistan's programs are designed to drive the curiosity of children and their eagerness to learn through combining classroom and arts-based curriculum with Skateboarding lessons. Through our programs: 'Skate & Create' 'Back-to-School' and 'Youth leadership', Skateistan provides opportunities for children to learn in a supportive environment and to tackle complex problems in their own lives and their local communities. For many children who have been through traumatic life experiences, attending Skateistan's programs can be a chance to simply learn through play and forget about the stress of everyday life.
Every student at Skateistan is valued and included as an equal member, regardless of ethnic, religious, gender or socio-cultural differences. Across all programs Skateistan aims to include a minimum of 50% girls. To ensure that this target is met Skateistan creates a 'female-first environment' by employing female teachers and running girls-only sessions each week. In particular, girls in Afghanistan face obstacles in accessing sport and actively taking part in their community, however, skateboarding is able to overcome this barrier because it is not subject to existing socially constructed restrictions. Due to its non-competitive nature and individual learning, Skateboarding is also very accessible to children with physical and cognitive disabilities - meaning Skateistan is able to work with over 100 children living with a disability across all the project sites.
Skateistan is currently working with multiple organisations around the world with its pilot project, the GoodPush Skateboarding Alliance. Through this project, Skateistan is sharing its knowledge with other like-minded organizations, to exponentially increase the number of children benefiting from Skateistan-inspired programs and ultimately for the organization to scale its impact. Skateistan is collaborating with the leadership from three promising projects in Iraq, Jordan and Palestine who will receive training and mentoring on their program development and governance to help multiply Skateistan’s impact.
Skateboarding is a unique and often completely new sport in the places where Skateistan operates, providing the opportunity to target new beneficiaries in an inclusive and innovative way. It is this factor that maximizes the possibility of program success because once children latch onto skateboarding, much more is possible: education, community, leadership. Youth come for skateboarding and stay for education.
We believe that positive social change happens when children are educated on how to take care of themselves and their communities. Our programs are for children aged 5 to 17 with a focus on girls, children living with a disability, and children from low income backgrounds. Educators and Youth Leaders head out with skateboards and sports equipment to engage with local children, providing an hour of recreational activity. Through Outreach sessions, many students go on to register in the Skate and Create or Back-to-School programs. Back-to-School is a program to support youth in their pursuit of formal education. In Afghanistan, this is an accelerated learning program for children who are out of school. Students come to the Skate School five days a week to attend classes covering the national public curriculum. Upon completing the program, we enroll students into public school, usually in the 3rd or 4th grade. In South Africa and Cambodia, the program takes place outside of school hours, where students can drop-in and receive homework help and guidance with career and further education planning.Impact
Skateistan has helped over 2,000 vulnerable children, particularly impacting access to education for girls.Scalability
Skateistan has schools in Kabul, Mazar-E-Sharif, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Johannesburg.