Anyone can skateboard no matter what their race, age, religion, or culture may be.
Daniel Kim, who started Street Smart Skate, tells American University Radio,
"Not only are there more young skaters, but the group is crossing racial boundaries. It used to be a lot of Caucasian males in their teen to twenties. Nowadays you'll see a bunch of young, black kids around like, 9 to 17-year-olds. It's completely different." Read full interview: http://bit.ly/22WsdIu
Mountain Dew had teamed up with Brain Farm Cinema to create a full-length skateboarding film titled "We Are Blood." The film explores skateboarding in many parts of the world including China, Dubai, Spain, and the United States.
Skateboarding for Hope, founded by Betty Esperanza, is a people-powered initiative that recycles, reuses, and revolutionizes skateboards to break the cycle of poverty across the globe. Skateboards for Hope empowers youth to "be your own hero" to create strong leaders in their communities. The locations which Skateboards for Hope has donated skateboards to are Havana, Cuba, Gulu, Uganda, and Kanesatake, Quebec.
Skateboarding organization's around the world, such as Ethiopia Skate (http://www.ethiopiaskate.org/), bring skateboarding to communities that were not exposed to skateboarding in the past. These skateboarding organizations strictly spread the good benefits of skateboarding to bring people together. Ethiopia Skate provides access to skateboard equipment and maintains skate spots were skate sessions with mentors are done at.
For the youth of third-world countries, skateboarding represents "the hook" for providing youth opportunities to interact with role-models of different cultures. The youth are given hope to see that it is possible for themselves to do what they want to do with their lives, instead of being groomed for violence.
A well-established non-profit social change youth skateboard organization based out of Kabul, Afghanistan, is Skateistan (http://skateistan.org/). Skateistan team consists of a number of individuals such as financial and operations directors. The global advisory board includes professional skateboarders Tony Hawk and Jamie Thomas.
Jamie Thomas shares with TransWorld Skateboarding Magazine,
“Skateistan has been able to overcome extremely tough social, political, and cultural boundaries with a heart for humanity and the joy of skateboarding. This is one of the most touching and inspirational movements in skateboarding I have ever witnessed.” Read more at: http://skateboarding.transworld.net/photos/skateistan-the-true-road-less-traveled/#Lh6WwzyyaElVsfD2.99
Skateistan receives generous funding from prestigious donors including the Finnish Embassy in Kabul, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Embassy of the United States.
The age demographic Skateistan works with is 5-25. The unique part of Skateistan is that the organization includes 40% females, youth with disabilities, and also streetworking youth (60% of the youth are of low-income). Skateistan's efforts have resulted in skateboarding becoming the biggest girls sport in Afghanistan. Skateistan works with 1110 youth each week and since 2007 has reached 3200 youth.
An odd fact is that females are forbidden from riding bicycles in Afghanistan. This gives more of a reason for the significance of skateboarding to still provide an opportunity of freedom to the females who live a life of unjust restriction. Skateboarding serves to open up the world of these females, and all youth, to show that life is more than war and violence that these youth have grown up with.
Skateboarding gains the attention of youth because to these youth this is their first time seeing a skateboarding and watching someone skateboard. Before Skateistan, skateboarding was non-existent in Afghanistan. To the youth, skateboards are fascinating objects with moving wheels that can go up and down ramps.
Skateistan leverages the power of skateboarding as a gateway to education. The way Skateistan works is youth come for skateboarding, and stay for education. Skateistan provides classrooms for youth to develop leadership, civic responsibility, multimedia, and creative arts. The youth explore topics such as environmental health, culture/traditions, natural resources, and peace.
Without impactful organizations like Skateistan, only 18% of females in Afghanistan are literate, a statistic that shows how the full potential of females is not maximized.
Skateistan Founder & Executive Director Oliver Percovich tells SportandDev.org,
“Ultimately, what Skateistan wants to achieve is building trust, links between Afghans… Skateistan is mixing social backgrounds. Here a street kid can meet the son of a minister. We promote activities (skateboarding) that don’t exclude.” Full interview: http://www.sportanddev.org/en/connect/userprofile.cfm?5939/Impact-through-action-sports.
What Skateistan does is they develop the older youth to become Youth Leaders which play an active role in the Skateistan programs. Once youth complete two to three semesters with Skateistan, the youth are eligible to enroll into a government operated school. This is especially important because the many youth of Afghanistan are forced to drop out of school due to social pressures. Getting youth back into school has been successful for Skateistan as in 2014 93% of the youth graduated (http://media.skateistan.org/reports/web_annualreport_2014.pdf).
Skateistan has expanded its skateboard-based development activities to include full-time programming for Cambodian youth in Phnom Penh, a state-of-the-art learning/skateboarding centre in Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan, and a project for youth in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Individuals are beginning to realize the strength of Skateistan as in 2013 Skateistan received the Global Journal Top 100 NGO's award and was the highest ranked sport for development organization.
Skateistan Theory of Change image taken from: