Skateboarding: Learning through Play

“Skateboarding is very special to me. I love it because I feel like flying, like a bird,” says 12-year- old Freshta, who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan. “It gives me the feeling of freedom!”

Skateistan is an NGO that works with low-income youth like Freshta in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa, providing them education and leadership training alongside skateboarding instruction. More than 1,500 youth aged 5-17 benefit from Skateistan’s programs weekly.

Freshta was enrolled in Skateistan’s “skate school” as part of the NGO’s “Back to School” program. The program takes in children who do not have access to school, guides them through an accelerated learning program and then helps them register into the public schooling system.

Skateistan’s unique approach to youth empowerment has seen great success in inspiring children to learn through play. In many developing countries, safe spaces for children are few and far between. Children – especially girls like Freshta – are rarely given the chance to engage in sports, so Skateistan’s work is significant in empowering them and encouraging them to be active.

Now, Freshta is successfully enrolled as a grade seven student at public school and aspires to be a doctor when she grows up. She continues to engage in Skateistan’s other programs, “Skate and Crate”, which combines art lessons with skateboarding sessions, and “Youth Leadership”, where students are taught how to be forward-thinking global citizens.