16/04/2014 | by Nina Zietman
Skateistan is an award-winning, international NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) project that combines skateboarding and education to give more opportunity to young people in some of the world’s most deprived and war torn nations. It provides apolitical, independent, inclusive support to children in need from Afghanistan to Cambodia and is the brainchild of Australian, Oliver Percovich.
Having started in 2007, the story of Skateistan was brought to a wider audience in the short documentary, To Live and Skate in Kabul, released back in 2011. The film highlights the plight of Afghanistan’s youth and the positive effects that skating and Oliver Percovich’s charity have had on their lives.
It exposes the daily fight for survival of young Afghanis and the positive impact of Skateistan and a skateboarding community that has brought kids hope and purpose.
When Skateistan founder Oliver Percovich first visited the war torn nation he saw a lack of opportunities for Afghani youth – especially young girls. Percovich has tried to address this and currently over half of Skateistan’s members are female.
Girls like Faranas are evidence of the positive effects skateboarding has had on the young female population of Kabul. “The best day of my life was the first time I came to the Skateistan park with some girls I knew” she says. She wants to become a doctor when she’s older and Skateistan in helping to provide a good education that will help her achieve her potential.
Having begun in Afghanistan six years ago, Skateistan has now has begun to branch out around the world. After success in Kabul, Percovich set up a second project in Cambodia. From its humble origins its mission statement has spread and they are providing children access to skating and education in many different places around the world.
The charity has continued to grow quickly and it has opened international offices and in Australia, Austria, Canada, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain and the US.
Skateistan offers a real chance to make an active difference in some of the most unstable parts of the world and bring positivity and hope to the lives of the young people there. It takes just $10 to introduce kids that have never known fun or a proper childhood to the incredible world of skating and $20 is enough to fit out a classroom with textbooks and provide the foundations of an education.
Skateistan also offer stylish clothing and merchandise, including a skate shoe made in collaboration with skating legend, Jamie Thomas, with all proceeds going to making a huge impact in the lives of children around the world.