Skater girls in Afghanistan.
Skater girls in Afghanistan.

In developing countries or unstable environments, it is difficult to predict which skills are going to be most valuable in the future. Skateistan is an award-winning international NGO working in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa to empower children through skateboarding and creative education. 

Our aim is to create future leaders for a better world. We work by giving our students the maximum flexibility to choose their own path. In some of the areas where we work, rote learning is common and children are often taught the same specific skills that their teachers learned over a generation ago. 

Skateboarding combines elements of sport and creative play, which, combined with our inclusive curriculum, teaches children to be adaptable, critical and creative. We believe this is the only way to really prepare them not only for what the future may bring, but for the future they may choose for themselves.

Children in Cambodia mapping out a visual story.
Children in Cambodia mapping out a visual story. We encourage our students to express themselves in ways which suit them. Here, they’re using a variety of storytelling techniques such as storyboards, comics and drama to find their own interests and skill sets. By working together, they learn the importance of collaboration and to appreciate the differing skills of others.
Children in Johannesburg learn about the importance of trust by leading each other through skatepark obstacles whilst blindfolded.
Learning about safe spaces in Johannesburg. Skateistan aims to provide a safe space where children can be themselves, make new friends and express themselves freely. We incorporate these ideas into our curriculum so our students play a central role in creating that safe and welcoming space. Here, they are learning about the importance of trust by leading each other, blindfolded, through the skatepark obstacles.
A child writing in a book in class in Kabul.
Attending classes in Kabul. Out-of-school children in Afghanistan can attend an accelerated learning program called Back-to-School which helps them to cover three grades in one year and then enroll in public school. As well as covering the public school curriculum, our educators help them learn about other important topics such as hygiene, health and understanding complex concepts such as peace and conflict.
A child making crafts in Phnom Penh.
Making crafts in Phnom Penh. Our Skate and Create program helps children to express themselves and explore their potential both in the skatepark and in the classroom. The curriculum is arts-based and is designed with tiered lesson plans so that children of all abilities can learn. Skateistan currently works with over 170 children who are living with disabilities.
A child learning to skate in Johannesburg.
Learning to skate in Johannesburg. The skatepark is the perfect environment to foster creativity. There is no right or wrong way to skateboard and we encourage students to experiment, to push themselves and to express themselves in a way that works for them. Through skateboarding, children also learn other life skills, such as goal setting, self-improvement, resilience, navigating risk and supporting others.

A lot of our students are growing up in challenging contexts. Many are affected by trauma; some have been exposed to violence or have been forced to flee from conflict. Over 80 per cent of them are from low-income backgrounds. We can’t change the external context, but in our creative education programs we try to help them to navigate their own landscape. 

Our students learn how they can play a part in changing the future for the better.  Students plan out their own imaginary countries, including designing flags, writing anthems and making laws; they learn about the importance of human rights, conflict resolution and education. Burying time capsules in the garden of our Skate School in Mazar-e-Sharif helps children to imagine a future without conflict, while setting up a recycling station in Johannesburg helps children to see their own role in making a difference. We help them to imagine a future which is different from their present.

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