By Fernando Barrios
F. Barrios, a straightedge and skateboard passionate, is a writer for SHIT® Magazine.
Skateboarding is not only a sport that brings the attention of many people, it is a phenomenon that is gaining an ever increasing popularity around the world. However, although it does not reach all corners of the planet, there are groups of people who work to make that happen, bringing with them joy and jubilee. The influence of skateboarding maes an impression on these new riders and gives them new perspectives that go beyond their past realities, leading them to change the situation of their countries and communities. In this article we will meet some of these organizations that go to areas that are experiencing difficult conditions and seek new alternatives to face and overcome these challenges, leading as a motto the skateboarding breaking borders, schemes and ways of thinking, and adopting new fans to this discipline.
Skateistan and It's Influence in Afghanistan
One of these NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) is Skateistan, this group started their operations in Afghanistan where children now can learn to know and enjoy the sport. They also participate in education and attention campaigns in the areas where they are present. Skateistans work puts a spotlight on the situations and vulnerability for young people in these areas, who seek empowerment to change the reality of their countries and build new societies around skateboarding and their values.
So much has this phenomenon made an impact that in the latest Academy Awards, Carol Dysinger's short documentary "Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (if You're a Girl)", received the statuette recognizing it as the best in it's category. This 40-minute short and with a year-long filming archive showcases the experiences of a group of girls in Afghanistan and their interaction with skateboarding, their beginnings, achievements, their dreams and their transformation to a culture that gives a new perspective to these girls who want to break with the established through skateboarding. This offers them an alternative of mobilization, but also a discipline. Showing their best tricks, and encouraging more girls to end the myth that skateboarding is exclusively for boys, to raise the expectations for women and girls in this country.
This skateboarding phenomenon is so incredible that Afghanistan now has the highest female representation in this sport with very good results.
Skate-Aid Passion for the Skate Beyond Frontiers
Another non-profit foundations that seek to teach new alternatives through skateboarding for children and young people is Skate-Aid, where skateboarding enthusiasts from different countries make their presence in the city of Calcutta, India and Kathmandu, Nepal where the concept of skateboarding did not exist until recently. These enthusiasts come to these places to teach children who are in a situation of extreme poverty and vulnerability, children from all ages who live in orphanages and places where the situation is not favorable. Through the teaching of this sport they learn the basic and advanced tricks, in addition this organization builds the skateparks for the development of this project by the donations they receive like materials to build ramps and obstacles. In addition, they receive new boards, trucks, wheels, T-shirts and even shoes to encourage more children to practice this sport, which can provide a moment of joy and experiences for these kids.
Indigo Youth Movement Reaching Goals Against Violence
Another one of these organizations is the South African NGO Indigo Youth Movement, whose role is to ward off the violence of criminal gangs, drug addiction and alcohol abuse from the most marginal areas of Klein Vlei’s Villa in South Africa, through skateboarding-related donations, teaching skateboarding tricks, training, and strengthening values that are part of skateboarding such as friendship, determination, companionship and tolerance. Ths movement is seeking the goal of creating a society that removes violence so it ceases to be a path that these young people are led to follow and instead transform their society with this sport, bringing with them new and enthusiastic athletes who join this voice for a change in this region of the South African country.
SkatePal and the Rebel Girls from Ramallah
The so-called Rebels of Ramallah is a group of girls from Palestine supported by the NGO SkatePal, who through skateboarding want to provide it's inhabitants with an escape from conflict and providing the ability to show that palestinians, especially women, can be competitive with skateboarding. Thus changing the perception of everyday life in this area of the world that are experiencing difficult situations due to violence. This is where this group of volunteer girls of this non-governmental organization teach their best tricks to children and people who are interested in learning to skate, because to them no matter the age, gender and activity the person performs, skateboarding is the option to feel a freedom that seems distant but is experienced on top of the board.
One might think that these rebellious girls do not have the support of their relatives but on the contrary their families have been an important part in the accompaniment and support to carry out this noble cause, even though in the most conservative spheres of this country women have very little participation and representation in sports and social issues. But over time this will change for these "revolutionaries".
This is just a sample of the power of passion for skateboarding, which is a discipline surrounded by a community that is characterized by building values and are committed to changing realities and situations throughout the world. Let us continue to support these organizations so we grow not only as skaters but as players for change.
Read also: Skateboarding in School: Rebels With a Cause