Skaters vs. Dictators: These Guys Want to Build a Skatepark in One of the Most Isolated Nations on Earth

Here's how you can help

Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. Photo: Screenshot

Since it first emerged kicking and screaming from Southern California in the 50s and 60s, skateboarding has taken root in some unlikely locations around the world.

The Skateistan project, an initiative to get kids (and particularly girls) skating in Kabul and around Afghanistan has been well documented and there have since been off-shoots in Cambodia and South Africa. SkatePal has sought to channel kids energy in a similarly positive way in occupied Palestine.

But while the sport has spread pretty much everywhere around the world, there are still places where it’s barely penetrated.

Myanmar, or Burma as it used to be known, was almost completely shut off from the outside world until recently. With the exception of North Korea, there was perhaps no country that was more isolated.

Skateboarders in downtown Yangon. Photo: Pushing Myanmar

Despite that, a small community of skateboarders grew up in the 90s, and as the country has opened up, the scene has grown steadily despite the lack of any proper facilities.

Somehow, kids in Yangon, the capital city, managed to get stoked on shredding despite not really having access to any of the essentials of a scene. Impressed by their skills and dedication, a German charity Make Skate Life has started campaigning to build a skatepark there.

“In a country rife with ethnic and religious conflict, children from all different backgrounds can find common ground through skateboarding.”

“Yangon has a population of over 5 million, with over 40% under the age of 25, and lacks the public recreation facilities to sustain its growing youth population,” they explain on their fundraising page.

“In a country rife with ethnic and religious conflict, children from all different ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds can find common ground through skateboarding.”

Having secured permission from the Yangon City Development Council, all they need now is the money to make it happen. They’re currently raising funds via Indiegogo.

They’ve already reached their funding targets, but with 48 hours to go are still collecting in the hope that any extra can be used to improve facilities further

The money will be spent not just on making the park, but also on teaching the local community how to build skateparks.

As they explain: “Local skateboarders will be provided with the tools, materials, and knowledge to create their own skatepark. Our goal is that future skateparks in Myanmar will be able to be 100% locally built.”

A free skatepark in India, built by Make Life, Skate Life and Bangalore skateboard collective Holystoked. Holystoked have gone on to make over a dozen skateparks of their own since this first build in 2013. Photo: Make Life, Skate Life

Make Life Skate Life have a successful track record, having previously built parks in Jordan, Bolivia and India using similar methods. So here’s hoping that they manage to make this happen and spread the love of the shred in one of the most out there places on the planet.

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