The joyous activities that many people experience from recreational sports such as rollerblading and biking are often taken for granted. In Afghanistan, however, there has been a recent emergence of skateboarders, typically females. Afghanistan inhibits a very traditional culture where women often stay within the home. In fact, often, Afghan girls are restricted from participating in traditional activities like bike riding, soccer, and kite flying because those are deemed only socially acceptable for boys. That being the case, young females throughout the country have found a way to bypass social norms and participate in another activity that makes them feel empowered.
Skateistan is an organization that brings education and social equality to street youths through skateboarding within countries like Afghanistan and Cambodia. They attempt to make the program culturally appropriate by having all-girl classes taught by female teachers; the classes also come with free transportation to increase the access to all Afghan girls. The prime focus of this group is to rebuild a civil society where each and every person feels comfortable and strong despite a devastating national history that has been plagued by war. Although the group adopts the role of a fun activity, it does so much more for all of the kids involved.
The non-profit encourages education, cultural awareness, and leadership within everyone. Over 40% of the students are girls, and over 60% of the students are low-income youth. The magnificence of an organization such as Skateistan is that it is entirely all-encompassing and goes out of its way to make skate-boarding an activity available to each Afghan young man and woman. They engage the youth in building trust and social capital with one another eventually forming a community. Skateistan was initially a grassroots development in Kabul yet is now an international non-governmental organization.
By envisioning a potential for change, Skateistan has helped young men and women all over Afghanistan become empowered by employing creativity and equality within their skate-boarding lessons. The skate-boarding is really just an eye-catching way to welcome kids and young adults into an association that is really and truly dedicated to helping everyone become equal and receive respect.
For more information on Skateistan, visit http://skateistan.org/.