Photo by Mark Straw
The non-profit Skateistan is proud to announce the official launch of its first project on the African continent in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Skateistan is an international NGO which uses skateboarding to connect vulnerable youth with educational opportunities, focusing particularly on girls and disadvantaged youth. Over 40% of Skateistan’s students are girls.
Skateistan South Africa is an expansion of the NGO’s ongoing projects in Afghanistan (Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif) and Cambodia (Phnom Penh).
Skateistan will construct a high-quality skatepark and education facility in central Johannesburg in the Maboneng Precinct, on land provided through a rent-free land lease partnership with the Johannesburg-based urban development company Propertuity.
Skateistan South Africa has a long-term vision to work throughout the region in coming years, guiding youth-led community projects.
Why South Africa?
“In Afghanistan and Cambodia, we have been able to use skateboarding as a hook to address complex social issues faced by youth,” says Oliver Percovich, Skateistan’s Executive Director.
“Skateistan is doing the same work in South Africa to address barriers such as social inequality, youth unemployment, gender discrimination, poverty and lack of education opportunities,” explains Percovich.
In collaboration with the City of Johannesburg, Skateistan has identified some of the most at-risk communities within the Central Business District that will most benefit from a quality youth education program that uses skateboarding as “the hook.”
Currently 50 youth are attending skateboarding and art education sessions that Skateistan hosts twice a week at a previously abandoned skateboarding bowl. Together with local youth, Skateistan cleaned the space and then painted the bowl at a recent celebration attended by over 200 people.
With a strong emphasis on reaching out to girls, street-involved children and marginalized youth, Skateistan South Africa aims to provide youth with leadership opportunities, access to education and a safe environment to build friendships and trust. The education component will focus on life skills and confidence-building, to help break cycles of poverty and exclusion.
Funding for the project has been graciously provided by the Danish Embassy in Pretoria, the Tony Hawk Foundation and The SK8room.
Photo by Ken Jerrard