“Skateistan” is Changing the Story in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa

‘Changing the Story’ aims to raise $60,000 for Skateistan’s creative education programs.

Skateistan Mazar - the NGO has launched Changing the Story.JPG

Skateistan, an award-winning international NGO which combines skateboarding with creative education to empower children, launched a fundraising campaign today which will help them to include even more children in their innovative programs. The campaign is called ‘Changing the Story’ and focuses on how Skateistan’s creative, arts-based education programs help children to shape a better future for themselves.

The charity works in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa and has a focus on reaching children from groups which are often excluded from educational opportunities, such as girls, children living with disabilities and children from low income backgrounds.

Skateistan’s largest program is called Skate and Create which combines skateboarding with creative education. Students follow an art-based curriculum which teaches skills and topics which are not covered as part of their formal education, ranging from human rights and gender issues to recycling projects and gardening. Particularly popular lessons include students making their own shoes and bags, building clocks and imagining their own countries.

Skateistan’s Programs Director Talia Kaufman said:

“Skate and Create is locally designed to help children explore their creativity and discover their talents. With arts-based learning, children develop skills which they may not learn elsewhere, they learn new ways to express themselves. We make the lessons accessible to students of all abilities so everyone is included. Most importantly, the children have a lot of fun learning in the safe spaces we create for them.”

Skateistan also runs an accelerated learning program in Afghanistan called ‘Back-to-School’ which gives out-of-school children the chance to complete grades 1-3 in one year so they don’t miss their chance to attend formal education. Earlier this year, Skateistan’s biggest Back-to-School program cohort to date saw 139 out-of-school children (56 girls and 83 boys) in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif graduate and enter public school.

Changing the Story’ will run until 27 June and features the stories of current Skateistan students who have benefited from its creative education.

Skateistan Founder and Executive Director Oliver Percovich said of the campaign:

“At Skateistan, we want to see our students fulfil their potential and determine their own futures. In unstable environments, the future can be a difficult thing to imagine. But by giving children the right tools through our creative education programs, we can help them see how the world could be different and their own role in creating that change.

We need people who share our vision of empowering children through skateboarding and creative education to support this campaign so that we can help more children to change their own stories.”

Student stories:

Pisey* is 11 and lives in Phnom Penh Cambodia. She experienced trauma in her early life but is now learning to express herself at Skateistan. One of her favorite lessons was learning how to make her own backpack.

“I fell down many times from my skateboard, but I keep getting up and trying again. And now, I am not afraid anymore because my teacher motivated me. Skateboarding make me feel happy and forget my fear.”

Skateistan launches Changing the Story - student Ahmad.jpeg
Ahmad with his Skateboard 

Ahmadis 13 and lives in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan in an internally displaced people’s camp. Having fled from his hometown, Ahmad was missing out on his education but he attended the Back-to-School program at Skateistan and has now re-enrolled in public school. His favorite lesson explored the meaning of peace.

“Before I went to Skateistan, there was no chance for me to understand value of education and how important it is, but now it’s totally different.”

Nthabiseng* is nine and lives in Johannesburg. Before she came to Skateistan she had no friends and she was always bored. Now she has a good circle of friends and is trying much harder at school. Her favorite lesson involved students making their own sandals.

“Then we learned how to make our own shoes. I didn’t think I could ever make my own shoes that I can actually wear. When I was finished, I wanted everyone to see the shoes that I had made.”

You can find out more about the campaign, read the full stories of the Skateistan students and donate at www.skateistan.org/changethestory.

About Skateistan

Skateistan is an award-winning international non-profit organization empowering children through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Through their innovative programs, Outreach, Skate and Create, Back-to-School, Dropping In and Youth Leadership, Skateistan aims to give children the opportunity to become leaders for a better world. www.skateistan.org.