‘Skateboarding is for Everybody’ aims to raise $150k for Skateistan so they can grow their programs to reach more children from minority groups.
Skateistan, an award-winning international NGO which combines skateboarding with education to empower children, launched a fundraising campaign today which will help them to include even more children in their innovative programs. The charity works in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa and has a focus on reaching children from groups which are often excluded, such as girls, children living with disabilities and internally displaced children.
The campaign is called ‘Skateboarding is for Everybody’ and seeks to highlight the diversity among Skateistan’s students as well as raising money to ensure the charity can continue its work to reach even more children. Currently 51% of Skateistan’s 2000 students are girls, and the NGO also works with over 70 internally displaced students in Afghanistan and over 160 children living with disabilities.
‘Skateboarding is for Everybody’ launches with a short film and will run from today until the end of 2018. It focuses on the stories of current Skateistan students from frequently excluded groups who have benefited from the charity’s efforts to include all children and to build up the confidence of those who are often left out of educational and recreational activities with skateboard games.
Skateistan Founder and Executive Director Oliver Percovich said of the campaign:
“At Skateistan, we believe all children have the right to enjoy high quality education and a childhood that is full of fun. But the reality in the places where we work is very different. Many children are excluded from education and recreation because of their gender, ethnicity, the economic situation of their family or because they are living with a disability.
“We’re proud of the huge amount of work we’re already doing to encourage these children to join our programs, but we want to do much more. We need people to donate to our ‘Skateboarding is for Everybody’ campaign to ensure that no child is left behind.”
Fatima* is 12 and attends the Skate and Create program in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. She is deaf and struggled with confidence when she first attended Skateistan. Skateistan Educators have been learning sign language so they can communicate better with students like Fatima.
Fatima said: “The first time I stood on a skateboard was scary. But I felt confident that I could learn it. The teachers in Skateistan are very kind and they never shout at us.”
Now Fatima is doing much better. She has made new friends at Skateistan and her confidence and ability have increased. Most importantly, Fatima is now having fun in a space where she is understood and accepted.
Thandiswa* is 11 years old and lives in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. There’s a shortage of safe spaces in the city for girls like Thandiswa, and the few sports facilities there are, are often aimed only at boys.
Thandiswa was frightened to try skateboarding and she didn’t want the boys to judge her. Skateistan runs girls-only sessions so that girls can try skateboarding without worrying about gender-based stereotypes. They also employ female educators so that girls have role models to aspire to. By practising in a safe space, Thandiswa has built up her confidence and is proving that skateboarding is not only a sport for boys: “I’ve fallen a lot. I felt scared, but by repeating the same thing, I can get better at it.”
Ali* is 11 and he attends the Back-to-School program at Skateistan in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. He comes from Faryab in the north of Afghanistan, an area that has been deeply affected by fighting. His family fled to Mazar and now live in an Internally Displaced Peoples’ camp on the outskirts of the city.
Ali was no longer attending school and there is no school in the camp. He was worried that he would miss out on his education because of the move to Mazar.
“I am 11 years old and I should be in grade 4. But because of our migration, I could not continue in my lessons.”
Ali now attends the Back-to-School program, which is an accelerated learning program for children who are out of formal education in Afghanistan. Skateistan provides transport and a meal for him to ensure he’s safe and healthy and the organization works with the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan to help children like Ali return to public school when they have finished their classes at Skateistan. After a year, Ali should be ready to rejoin formal education in grade 4.
Thyda* lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and she has learning difficulties. At first, Thyda would not take part in skateboarding and only participated in the creative education classes at Skateistan. She felt like she couldn’t manage to skate because of her disabilities.
With encouragement from her educators and friends, she eventually gave it a try. Now she can skate and she has realized that her disability doesn’t have to hold her back.
“I feel so happy about it. I thought I couldn’t do all of these things because I’m disabled. But now I know I can do whatever my friends can do.”