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Afghanistan’s First Skateboarding School
Detail: Students of Afghanistan's first skateboarding school: Skateistan wore white T-shirts adorned with "Skateistan" logos, and zipped from the national stadium, which was once the scene of public Taliban executions, to another part of the city to take part in a competition in honour of world Go Skateboarding Day.

Police in a pick-up truck provided an escort. With sirens blaring, officers shouted commands through a megaphone at motorists telling them to make way for the kids. "Long live Afghanistan!" the children shouted as they skated.

The founders of Skateistan say it has proven a remarkably successful way to reach out to marginalized kids. Oliver Percovich, an Australian who co-founded the school in 2007 with just three skateboards, said, "It's more than just skateboarding….It's a way to connect with the youth of Afghanistan. These kids are the future leaders and we hope that through skateboarding it can provide a little bit of a level playing field for both the rich and the poor."

At the moment, children skate in an old disused fountain in the middle of the city. But this week, thanks to western donations, the school will lay the cornerstone for what will become Afghanistan's biggest indoor sports arena. The 1,800 square metre Skateistan indoor arena will have a skateboard park and two air-conditioned classrooms equipped with computers where students can study.
Source: Based on a story by Jonathon Burch, Reuters in The Gazette (Montreal), June 22, 2009, Monday
Date: July 8 2009