|Key people||Oliver Percovich, founder & Executive Director|
|Area served||Afghanistan, Cambodia, Pakistan|
|Product(s)||Skate Shoes, Clothing, Safety Gear, Book|
|Focus(es)||youth empowerment, girls' education, trust-building|
|Method(s)||skateboarding, creative arts, sports, innovation|
Skateistan is an Afghan non-governmental organization that works with youth from a range of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to build trust and to provide empowerment through a combination of skateboarding and educational activities. It is based in Kabul, Afghanistan, and was established in May 2007.
- 1 History
- 2 Afghan activities
- 3 International activities
- 4 Funding
- 5 Recognition
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Skateistan was founded by Australian Oliver Percovich who first traveled to Afghanistan in February 2007. Skateistan is Afghanistan's only skateboarding school.
The idea of Skateistan began in 2007 when Percovich arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, with three skateboards and quickly met a group of local boys and girls eager to learn how to skate. What began as informal skateboarding lessons at a local empty fountain turned into something much bigger. Percovich perceived the lack of opportunities for young Afghans, especially girls, and realized that skateboarding was a way to engage them and build community. Skateistan took shape in the following years, with the help of international donors and skateboard industry partners. It was officially registered as an Afghan NGO in July 2009.
On October 29, 2009, the 1750m2 Skateistan park officially opened, giving boys and girls in Kabul a secure environment and an indoor skatepark to come to every week.
Skateistan offers free skateboarding classes to youth in Kabul at its indoor facility through a dedicated international and Afghan team. Skateistan is open to girls and boys of all socio-economic backgrounds between the ages of 5 and 17. Students are provided with both skateboarding and classroom lessons.
The organization says that by "using skateboarding as a hook for engaging Afghan youth and breaking down social barriers, Skateistan aims to empower girls and boys from all ethnicities, abilities and social classes. Furthermore, once they come to Skateistan there is also the opportunity in classroom lessons to provide education, skills and platforms for self-expression".
Skateistan currently has over 350 regular students, ages 5–17. They come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds including Pashtun, Hazara, Uzbek and Tajik children. Skateistan strives for gender equality in one of the most gender-biased societies in the world. Nearly 40% of Skateistan's students are girls. Additionally, approximately half of Skateistan’s students work on the street and many are illiterate due to economic pressures keeping them out of school. In contrast, others are the children of government ministers. By learning and having fun together the youth build trust and understanding despite their differences.
Operating six days a week, the Skateistan facility in Kabul runs skateboarding and classroom activities, in addition to classes for disabled youth, advanced photography and film classes, and a Back-to-School program for streetworking children. Girls and boys attend on separate days. All students come once a week for one hour of skateboarding and one hour of classroom programming, taught by both Afghan and international instructors.
Classroom lessons are designed to be accessible for both literate and illiterate students by incorporating games and hands-on creative arts projects such as photography, painting, theatre, and puppetry. Past curriculum themes have been environmental health, the future of Kabul, peace in Afghanistan, gender equality, and culture. The skate sessions have 10 minutes of warm-up exercises, 30 minutes of instruction and 10 minutes of “free skating.” Skateistan provides all skateboards and safety equipment, and classes are supervised by 2-6 instructors. Students that show potential have the chance to become instructors in the program.
On May 2, 2011 Skateistan received a land donation in Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan, on which to build a second facility. The 6000m2 area of land was given by the Governor of Balkh and the Afghan National Olympic Committee (ANOC). Construction will begin in summer/fall 2011 with funding from the German Federal Foreign Office.
Volunteers and fundraising
Although Skateistan is an Afghan NGO based in Kabul, it also has an international network of groups in other countries supporting the project. Skateistan has over 250 volunteers in 14 countries assisting the program in Afghanistan. They are part of organizations ranging from associations to non-profit corporations, and oversee Skateistan’s fundraising efforts and promotion within a given country. In 2009 over US$100,000 was raised by volunteers. In 2010 approximately US$200,000 was raised around the world.
A number of the volunteers in Skateistan's international network also help Kabul directly in various capacities, including graphic design, website assistance, database development, brand development, media coverage, legal assistance, and shipping logistics.
Currently, Skateistan has volunteers operating in the following countries:
- Australia (non-profit entity), Austria, Canada, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Denmark (club), France, Germany (association), Norway, Poland (non-profit association), Sweden, Switzerland (association), Great Britain and the United States(non-profit corporation).
Since 2008, Skateistan has been featured in well over 100 media pieces in more than 20 countries.:
Projects outside Afghanistan
Skateistan is currently supporting skateboarding projects in Pakistan and Cambodia.
Construction of the Kabul skate/educational facility was funded by the embassies of Germany, Norway, Denmark and Canada. Running costs for 2009-2011 were primarily funded by the embassies of Norway and Denmark. In 2011, the German Federal Foreign Office committed to funding a second Skateistan facility in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
Sponsors and partners
Both local and international partnerships have been essential to Skateistan’s success. The NGO's approach is to reduce costs, secure local support, and seek out flexibility/like-mindedness.
Skateistan’s sponsorship partnerships in 2010 amounted to US$196,900. Material sponsorships include: discounted construction for the Kabul facility from ACCL Construction; skateboarding equipment from Fallen shoes, Zero skateboards, TSG Safety Gear and Theeve trucks; and Lomography cameras. Service sponsorships include shipping assistance; hi-speed internet from Roshan (value US$2200 monthly); skatepark design/construction from IOU Ramps and Convic Design; and expert carpentry for Skateistan's climbing wall.
Skateistan’s most important local partnership is with the ANOC, which provided Skateistan with a 10-year land lease for its Kabul facility and, in May 2011, arranged land for a second facility in Mazar-e-Sharif. Skateistan’s founder/executive director Oliver Percovich acts as an advisor to the ANOC, facilitating international opportunities for the ANOC and promoting sports in Afghanistan.
Educational partnerships in 2010/2011 include a multimedia library and international youth exchange project funded by AusAID, and Skateistan's Youth, Arts, Peace! (YAP!) project funded by UNAMA. The latter included arts workshops, an arts exhibition in Kabul, and distribution of a student-produced magazine throughout Afghanistan. These partnerships enable Skateistan to provide broader exposure to the voices of its students.
In February 2011 Skateistan partnered with the French NGO Pour une Sourire D'Enfant in Phnom Penh to help implement Cambodia’s first skatepark. With funding, networking and advisory assistance from Skateistan the Cambodian skatepark opened on March 25, 2011.
The majority of Skateistan’s running costs for 2009-2011 have been funded by the embassies of Nor and Den, with the understanding that Skateistan is striving for self-sustainability within 2–3 years.
Skateistan’s running costs have always been kept to a minimum so that it can raise a significant percent of the necessary funds through its own funding streams. In-kind donations have been crucial in keeping operations costs low. They amounted to US$737,900 in 2010. This includes nearly US$200,000 in sponsorships; 59 volunteers in 10 countries valued at an additional US$341,000; and private donations or fundraising of approximately US$200,000.
Skateistan has the following co-branded products:
- TSG/Skateistan Helmet and Protector sets (Junior and Adult sizes) - Released Spring 2011 
- Fallen/Skateistan Shoes, Hat, T-shirt - Released Fall 2011
There are currently two documentaries about Skateistan that have been released. In late 2010 a 9-minute short documentary entitled "Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul"  was released by director Orlando Von Einsiedel on the internet. In January 2011 a full-length documentary entitled "Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul" premiered at the Santa Barbara film festival in the United States. The full-length was directed by Kai Sehr and will be showing in various festivals worldwide throughout 2011.
- 2012- The Tale of Skateboarding in Afghanistan, Published by Skateistan, ISBN 978-3-00-037631-3
- 2009- Skateistan receives “NGO of the year Award” at the Peace and Sport Forum in Monaco 
- 2009- Skateistan receives a golden “Dove of Peace”. The life-sized Golden Dove is one of 30 created by German artist Richard Hillinger for the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights 
- 2009- 1st Place for “Architecture for Sport with a Social Outcome” in Architecture for Humanity and Gamechangers (Nike) competition
- 2010- (September) Skateistan short film “To Live and Skate Kabul” wins “Best Documentary” and “Best Cinematography” at the 1st Annual “L.A. Skate Film Festival” 
- 2011- (January) The short film “To Live and Skate Kabul” nominated for “Best Editing” and “Best Camera” at Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, United States
- 2011- (January) The feature length documentary “Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul” is nominated for “Social Justice Award” at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in the United States
- 2011- (February) The feature length documentary “Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul” wins “Most Valuable Documentary” at Cinema for Peace Festival in Berlin, Germany
- 2011- ISPO “Brand New Social Awareness” Award
- 2011- (March) Both the full length documentary “Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul” and the short film “To Live and Skate Kabul” are the main feature at the “Middle East Now” film festival in Florence, Italy 
- 2011- (March) The short film “To Live and Skate Kabul” wins award for "Best Cultural Film" at Sheffield Adventure Film Festival 
- 2011- (October) Skateistan wins Peace & Sport's "Image of the Year" Award
- 2011- (December) Skateistan shortlisted for two categories at Beyond Sport Awards ("Sport for Conflict Resolution" and "Sport for Education")
- 2012- (July) Skateistan wins "Innovation through Sport" special jury award at 2012 Beyond Sport, and is shortlisted for the "Sport for Social Inclusion" Award
- La Times "Afghan kids find skateboards the wheel deal"
- Skateistan Official Site "Press Coverage"
- UNAMA "Youth Building Peace through Art and Skating"
- Skateistan Supports Cambodian Skateboard Project
- Fast Company Magazine "Skateistan Launches Product Line, Abandons Foreign Aid"
- Skateistan Blog "TSG/Skateistan Safety Gear Out Now"
- Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul
- Skateistan Full-Length Documentary Official Site
- Peace and Sport "Awards 2009"
- Skateistan Blog "Golden Dove Handover"
- L.A. Skate Film Festival Official Site "Winners 2010"
- Middle East Now Film Festival Official Site
- Grain Media "Skateistan Wins Another Award"