TEACHING CHANGE (3): LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN , SKATEISTAN IS THE WORLD’S FIRST SKATING SCHOOL

AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, CAMBODIA: SKATEISTAN (2007–ONGOING)

LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN IS THE WORLD’S FIRST SKATING SCHOOL, USING THE SKATEBOARD AS A WHEELED AGENT TO EDUCATE AND FIGHT SOCIAL BARRIERS – BETWEEN GENDERS, RICH AND POOR, AND WORLDWIDE PREJUDICES.

In 2007 the Australians Olivier Percovich and Sharna Nolan arrived in Kabul with little more than a couple of skateboards. In a country where children make up more than half of the population but don’t get all too many opportunities, their boards quickly drew in local children – first the boys, then the girls – like an unstoppable magnetic force. What began as informal skateboarding lessons at an empty fountain soon led -with the help of the Norwegian, Danish, Canadian, and German authorities- to the foundation of Skateistan, not just Afghanistan’s first skatepark and biggest sports facility, but also the world’s first co-educational skateboard school, combining skateboarding and classroom activities, in addition to classes for disabled youth and a Back-to-School program for street kids. Ran by an independent Afghan NGO, the 1750 sqm Skateistan park officially opened in October 2009. It currently has over 350 students, ages 5–17. The initiative reaches far beyond skateboarding, transcending many social barriers. Nearly 40% of Skateistan’s students are girls, in one of the world’s most gender-biased societies. Approximately half of the students also work on the street and many are illiterate, while others are the children of government ministers.

Girls and boys attend on separate days. All students come once a week for one hour of skateboarding and one hour of classroom programming, taught by both Afghan and international instructors. Classroom lessons are designed to be accessible for both literate and illiterate students by incorporating games and hands-on creative arts projects such as photography, painting, theatre, and puppetry. Past curriculum themes included environmental health, the future of Kabul, peace in Afghanistan, and gender equality. While striving for self-sustainability Skateistan is funded by an international network of volunteers and financers, also from the skating industry. As the subject of several award-winning documentaries, it received the 2009 ‘NGO of the year Award’ at the Peace and Sport Forum in Monaco. It is currently supporting skateboarding projects in Pakistan and Cambodia, while in Kabul the school’s activities have come to include a multimedia library and international youth exchange project, an arts workshops and a student-produced magazine. In 2011, the German Federal Foreign Office committed to funding a second 6000sqm Skateistan facility in Mazar-e Sharif, northern Afghanistan. http://skateistan.org/

In 2012, Skateistan released a first book about the project, a 320 page, full-color publication entitled “Skateistan: The Tale of Skateboarding in Afghanistan.” Proceeds from book sales will go towards their skateboarding and educational activities.

SKATEISTAN HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR THE MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD EXHIBITION AT RECIPROCITY, THE DESIGN BIENNIAL FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION IN LIEGE, BELGIUM, FROM OCTOBER 5 TILL OCTOBER 28 2012, AND WILL ALSO FEATURE IN THE ACCOMPANYING MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD MAGAZINE – FOCUSING ON MORE THAN 100 EXAMPLES OF (DO) GOOD DESIGN PRACTICE FROM AN EQUAL NUMBER

OF COUNTRIES.001 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN SKATEISTAN 002 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN 003 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN 004 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN 005 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN 006 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN 007 TEACHING CHANGE (3)- LAUNCHED IN AFGHANISTAN AND RAPIDLY SPREADING TO OTHER WAR-TORN COUNTRIES SKATEISTAN

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