In August 2021, we suspended our programs in Afghanistan for the first time since 2009, when we opened the doors of our Skate School in Kabul. For over a decade, thousands of children in Afghanistan had found a safe space at Skateistan, where they could play, learn and dream. We said right from the start that we were committed long-term to the children of Afghanistan and that as soon as it was safe to do so, we would aim to restart our programs.
The crisis in Afghanistan led us to rethink our strategy. We always intended to increase the number of our Skate Schools but we had to think differently about how we can be more agile and reach more children, faster. In November of last year, we launched A New Chapter, a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $1.5 million by spring this year, with the aim to work in 20 locations, and reach 4,500 students every week by the end of 2022.
As April 2022 kicks off, we are delighted to let you know that we are now working in 15+ locations around the world, and we reach up to 3,300 students every week. We’re well on our way to reach our goal and we want to sincerely thank you, our supporters, for helping us to get there.
Read on to see how we’re progressing against these goals.
Where are we now?
Running in-person programming in Afghanistan
We are so excited to be able to run in person programs in Afghanistan again. Skateistan students are attending the Back-to-School (BTS) program, which partners with schools and services to align our students with their national curriculums. Since January we have run our food distribution program and also delivered our Skate and Create program session remotely. But there is no substitute for real contact with our students and we are so happy to be back in the classroom with them.
We are now reaching up to 400 students per week through our BTS program in Afghanistan, and we are currently running Skate and Create sessions remotely for students, reaching up to 600 students per week in attendance.
We now have Skateistan programs running in refugee camps and resettlement locations. In Rochester, NY we have been working with the amazing Friends of ROC City Skatepark. They run a program called Rolling Rochester Resettlement Project which is aimed at supporting refugees through skateboarding. At the end of February we held a demo event to encourage children to sign up and now we’re able to get started with our Skate and Create program. Our Educators there (Zainab, Belqisa, Farzad and Sohaib) are all Afghan staff who want to continue using what they learned at Skateistan to empower others.
Two of our Youth Leaders, Saeeda and Marzia, went to Albania as Kabul fell. They expressed their desire to start some skate programs there and worked with our team to get things off the ground. Dr Nida Ahmad, a Researcher and Executive Board Member of the Muslim Women in Sport Network, has been incredibly helpful in supporting our Educators and helping to smooth the process so we can start programs. Skate gear arrived from our Berlin HQ in March and now these inspiring girls are now running Skate and Create three times a week.
Lastly, we're so happy to tell you about our work in Belgium. Belgium welcomed a significant number of Afghan refugees and has several camps around the country. Although we don’t have staff there to run programs, we have been so happy to link up with Fedasil and Kapow, two incredible partners who are helping us to implement programs in two refugee camps (Koksijde and Ghent). Both camps ran demonstration days in late February and are now running Skate and Create sessions weekly for both younger and older students.
We are reaching up to 300 children so far across all of our refugee program locations in Rochester, Albania, and Belgium.
In Skateistan’s new chapter, we planted roots in new locations around the world to grow our skateboarding community. With our partners, we’re running Skate and Create for new students in Jordan, Bolivia, Kenya, South Africa, and Lebanon. These sessions focus on girls’ inclusion, empowerment and integration between different communities.
In Jordan we are partnering with 7Hills Skatepark, who already run amazing skate programs in Amman. Together, we’re running Skate and Create for new students, who are a mix of Jordanian children and children with a refugee background, in Zarqa and Irbid.
In Bolivia, we’re proud to be working with Ayni Skate Project to run Skateistan programs in La Paz, and La Viacha, Bolivia. Using the Pura Pura skatepark (built by Make Life, Skate Life) we are running Skate and Create sessions and Youth Leadership, which focus on creativity and inclusion. In Bolivia with Ayni Skate Project, over 50% of students who have joined the program are girls, a product of employing many female educators in programs and skate sessions. Together through our programs, and with our focus on inclusion, we provide a safe space where girls can express themselves and follow their dreams.
We’ve started working in partnership with Project Elimu, which runs dance and educational programs in Kibera, Nairobi. Now the project is also offering Skateistan’s Skate and Create program, to encourage children to skate, learn and explore their role in their community.
South Africa (Atlantis)
Skateistan South Africa has now expanded from its base in Johannesburg to the Western Cape. In partnership with local schools, we are now running our Skate and Create program for over 100 children in Atlantis. This provides a space where children can enjoy skateboarding and creative sessions safely, with adults they can trust and look up to.
Emphasizing on early education in order to facilitate and ease entering school, Skateistan partnered with Just Childhood, who are based in Beirut, Lebanon. We are now running our signature Skate and Create program there together. The majority of our students in Beirut, Lebanon are Syrian refugees, and currently up to 100 children attend our programs together with Just Childhood.
See how we’re progressing against these goals - check out our new locations map.
Thanks to your support, Skateistan is writing a new chapter in Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Atlantis, and Kenya. There are children all over the world who need safe spaces to skate, dream, and learn. With our focus on girls' inclusion, empowerment and integration between different communities, we are connecting more children with opportunities to make them leaders for a better world.
Support Skateistan’s new chapter by making a donation today at https://www.skateistan.org/a-new-chapter.