Two years ago, a couple of Australians started teaching kids in Kabul to skateboard. For free. The activity instills them with confidence and courage, and offers them what youths all over the world want: a way to escape. “Teenagers are trying to dissociate from old mentalities, and I’m their servant,” Oliver Percovich, one of the Australians, told the New York Times last January. “If they weren’t interested, I would’ve left a long time ago.”
Now, with the help of over $650,000 in private donations and land, water, power and security from the Afghan Olympic Committee (AOC), Afghanistan has opened its very first first skatepark, Skateistan. Skateistan is a 19,380 square foot indoor arena which contains a learning area at the back with classrooms for studying and computer use.
“We managed to bring together about 200 street children, this sport is not only entertainment for them, it is also giving them hope for their future,” said AOC head Mohammad Zahir Aghbar. Classes are still free, and the children of the rich and poor come together at Skateistan, many of them sponsored by the organization itself — Reuters reports that at least one child is able to skate and learn there instead of selling gum on the street because Skateistan pays her parents the $1 per day she used to earn.
Check out more information about the Afghan Stake School and how to get involved and/or visit at Skateistan.org.