With its addition to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, skateboarding has become increasingly popular and recognized in the mainstream. However, underdeveloped countries typically do not have access to high-quality or even necessary equipment to get involved in the sport. Therefore, social skateboarding organizations work to ensure everyone has access to this healthy and beneficial sport.
Skateboarding and social inclusion are what comprise social skateboarding. It promotes the idea that everyone should have the opportunity to skate, including traditionally marginalized groups. Aspects such as conflict, costs and social norms prevent many from becoming involved with the sport. These aspects affect girls, those with disabilities, refugees and more. On a global scale, this also includes those affected by global poverty.
Skateistan is a global skate organization made up of one hundred staff and volunteers from around the world. It runs five unique programs in its Skate Schools around the globe, benefiting underprivileged children from the ages of five to seventeen. Currently, it has Skate School locations in Cambodia, South Africa and Jordan.
One of Skateistan’s main focuses is Outreach in which it provides Skateistan’s educators to children with limited resources. By doing this, it introduces new communities to skateboarding, providing families with critical social services. This program offers weekly opportunities for economically developing communities to engage in creative activities.
Another project from the organization is Skate and Create. This project aims to provide an inclusive space for young learners to develop healthy social relationships and learn essential life skills. Skateistan’s educators provide four annual curriculums focusing on wellness, equality, creative expression and natural science. The program offers a valuable experience for children regardless of their gender, literacy or current ability.
Skateistan’s Educational Programs
Skateistan also runs a Back-to-School program. The organization partners with schools and services to ensure students have access to quality public education. Using its partnerships, it works to align students with their national curriculums. In Afghanistan, Skateistan offers an accelerated program for students; students join the Skate School for five days a week, covering three grades of public education within eleven months. Once students complete this program, they enroll in their country’s public school system.
In addition, Skateistan’s Dropping In program gives students access to safe and accommodating learning spaces. Here, young learners can develop goals and get a better understanding of themselves. Students have the opportunity to utilize the Skate School’s facilities. Students can participate in skateboarding and sports events, read in one of the organization’s libraries, participate in weekly book clubs and study groups and use the Skate School’s quiet studying areas. This program continues throughout the year, providing children with a safe space even on school vacations.
Skateistan’s Youth Leadership Program
Finally, the social skateboarding organization provides students with a Youth Leadership program. This program allows students to facilitate and lead their communities. In this program, students collaborate each week, working on media training, event planning, international cultural exchanges and foundational safety skills to assist educators in class. This program provides students with the opportunity to learn leadership skills from Skateistan’s educators and a chance for involvement in their communities.
In addition to Skateistan’s own programs, the organization developed an initiative, the Goodpush Alliance. This initiative focuses on providing inclusive skating spaces to children around the world, providing support and knowledge between social skateboarding projects worldwide. It also offers grassroots and established global skate organizations training through, workshops, support calls, awards and online resources. These resources cover topics ranging from developing quality skate lessons to providing an inclusive space for children.
Rolling Thunder Supply Co.
Rolling Thunder Supply Co. is one of the leading suppliers of skateboards. Besides selling skateboards, the brand has a philanthropic stance on skateboarding, partnering with social skateboarding organizations to support their causes. For example, one of its most recent projects was with Make Life Skate Life. Rolling Thunder has promised to build two skateparks in 2021 and 2022 and support underdeveloped communities in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Make Life Skate Life has previously built skateparks in 20 economically developing communities across India.
The Heart Supply
Another social skateboarding organization is The Heart Supply. This is an organization that donates skateboards to underprivileged youth around the world. The organization uses a part of its proceeds from its skate decks sold online and in major stores like Target to provide quality skateboards to children in low and middle-income countries. So far, it has donated hundreds of skateboards in over 51 countries. This program offers impoverished communities a chance to experience creative and physical activity with high-quality equipment.
– Carly Johnson