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Skateistan LogoText 2017.jpg
Kabul, Afghanistan
TypeNon-governmental organization
Focusyouth empowerment, girls' education, trust-building
Area served
Afghanistan, Cambodia, South Africa
Methodskateboarding, creative arts, sports, innovation, empowerment
Key people
Oliver Percovich, founder & Executive Director

Skateistan[1] is an award-winning international non-profit organization that uses skateboarding and education to empower children. Over 2,500 children, aged 5–17, attend Skateistan’s programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. 50% of students are girls. Through their innovative programs, Outreach, Skate and Create, Back-to-School, Dropping In and Youth Leadership, Skateistan aims to give children the opportunity to become leaders for a better world. Skateistan has Skate Schools in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Johannesburg, South Africa. The international headquarters is in Berlin, Germany.


Girls Skate Lessons at Mekroyan Fountain where Skateistan first began, Kabul, Afghanistan in 2008

The idea of Skateistan began in 2007 when Australian Oliver Percovich arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, with three skateboards and began skateboarding in the streets with children. Percovich perceived the lack of opportunities for young Afghans, especially girls and working children, 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 in Kabul, Skateistan officially opened their first Skate School within a 1750 m² facility that includes classrooms, offices, a sport court and the indoor skatepark.[2] A second Skate School was opened in northern Afghanistan in May 2013, in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.[3]

Skateistan has since grown to run their programs for children beyond Afghanistan. In 2011 Skateistan Cambodia was founded in Phnom Penh, and in 2014 Skateistan South Africa was founded in Johannesburg.

In 2012, Skateistan moved its international administrative headquarters from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Berlin, Germany.[4]

Skateistan officially opened its Skate School in Johannesburg on August the 14th 2016.

In February 2018, Skateistan opened a new Skate School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The facility consists of a 500 m² skatepark, a classroom, library, office and large green space.

On April 11th 2018, Skateistan celebrated its 10th birthday marking 10 years of empowering children and youth through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.


Skateistan’s programs are for children 5 to 17 years of age with a big focus on inclusion for girls, children with disabilities, and children from low-income backgrounds. The core programs work to keep children involved in the Skateistan community for the long term. As participants get older, they can become role models for the younger children and the wider community.

Their mission is to empower children through skateboarding and education.

What they do: Programs[edit]

  • Outreach

Outreach sessions take place both at the Skate Schools and in the local communities. Educators and Youth Leadership participants head out with skateboards and sports equipment to engage with local children, providing an hour of recreational activity. It is often the first time they will try skateboarding, or other sports and their first contact with Skateistan. Skateistan also develops partnerships with child protection agencies in order to connect youth and their families with important social services. Through Outreach sessions, many students go on to register for the Skate and Create or Back-to-School program.

  • Skate and Create

This 2-hour program consists of weekly skateboarding classes and an educational arts-based curriculum. In the classroom, Skateistan Educators use creative arts to teach a variety of topics, including human rights, cultural studies, nutrition and the environment. Lessons give youth tools to express themselves, think critically and develop confidence. In the skatepark, students find a valuable platform for self-expression and personal development. Accessible to all levels of literacy and education, Skate and Create provides a safe space for youth to develop friendships that overcome deep social barriers.

  • Dropping In

The Dropping In program provides learning spaces and resources where students can develop their aspirations and navigate their potential. Children ‘drop in’ for organized skateboarding and sports sessions, read in the Skate School libraries, join weekly book clubs and study groups, or use computers and quiet spaces to study.  Even when public school is not in session, holiday programs, field trips, and events keep students learning and moving ahead.

  • Back to School

Back-to-School is a program to support children in their pursuit of formal education. In Afghanistan, this is a fast-tracked learning program for children who are out of school. Students come to the Skate School five days a week to attend classes covering the national public curriculum. Upon completing the program, Skateistan enrolls students into public school, usually in the 3rd or 4th grade. In South Africa and Cambodia, the program takes place outside of school hours, where students can “drop in” and receive homework help and guidance with career and further education planning.

  • Youth Leadership

Motivated older students at Skateistan can apply to join the Youth Leadership training program, assisting the Educators in classes, mentoring younger students, building their skill sets and planning local events. This program helps young people to develop a sense of ownership at the Skate Schools and creates role models for the other students and wider community.

Skateistan runs programs at their Skate Schools, Outreach locations and with partner organizations in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Skateistan Educators run programs 5 days a week, reaching more than 2500 children.

International activities[edit]

Non-Profit Status[6][edit]

Skateistan has charitable status in:

  • Germany
  • UK
  • USA (501c3)

There are Skateistan NGOs registered in:

  • Afghanistan (Afghanistan Skateboarding Training Organization - Skateistan)
  • Cambodia (Skateistan Cambodia)
  • South Africa (Skateistan South Africa)

Media coverage[7][edit]

Skateistan has been featured in thousands of media pieces around the world. It has appeared in most major media outlets including The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Economist, Al Jazeera, and The Guardian.


  • Skateistan Kabul (Afghanistan, 2007–present)
  • Skateistan Cambodia [9] (Phnom Penh, 2011–present)
  • Skateistan Mazar-e-Sharif (Afghanistan, 2013–present)
  • Skateistan South Africa [10] (Johannesburg, 2014–present)



Two documentaries about Skateistan have been released. In late 2010 a 9-minute short documentary entitled "Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul" [11] 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.[12] The full-length was directed by Kai Sehr. Most recently, a short documentary, 'The Skateboard and The City' was released covering their Skate School opening in Johannesburg, directed by Coral Brown. In 2017, Skateistan released Land of Skate, shot by Ghost Digital Cinema.


  • 2012- The Tale of Skateboarding in Afghanistan, Published by Skateistan, ISBN 978-3-00-037631-3



  • HundrED Top 100 Innovators in Education


  • We Work Creator Award, Berlin


  • NGO Advisor - Top 500 NGO's Worldside - #67


  • "Eric Stricker Memorial" Award from Transworld Skateboarding Magazine


  • "Champion of Learning through Play" Award from ASHOKA and LEGO Foundation
  • "Frankin Paine's Skatepark Fund" Award for social justice through skateboarding


  • #85 in The Global Journal's "Top 100 NGOs" for 2013[14]
  • Winner of the "UNICEF Sport for Education" Award at Beyond Sport Forum


  • Winner of Beyond Sport "Innovation through Sport" Award
  • Shortlisted for the Beyond Sport "Social Inclusion" Award
  • Winner of ISPO Marketing and Social Awareness Award


  • Winner of Peace and Sport "Image of the Year" Award
  • Shortlisted for the Beyond Sport "Conflict Resolution" and "Sport for Education" Awards
  • Sundance Film Festival screens "Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul"
  • "Most Valuable Documentary" at Cinema for Peace Festival in Berlin for feature-length Skateistan documentary "Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul
  • Winner of ISPO Brandnew Social Awareness Award


  • "Best Documentary" at L.A. Skate Film Festival for Skateistan short film
  • Sappi Design Award "Ideas that Matter"


  • Winner of Peace and Sport Award "NGO of the Year"
  • Recipient of Gamechangers/Architecture for Humanity "Architecture for Sport with a Social Outcome" Award
  • Golden "Dove of Peace" (UN initiative)


  1. ^ Skateistan Official Site
  2. ^ La Times "Afghan kids find skateboards the wheel deal"
  3. ^ "Mazar Facility Officially Opens". Skateistan Blog. Skateistan. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  4. ^ "Annual Report 2012". Skateistan Website. Skateistan.
  5. ^ "About Us". Skateistan Website. Skateistan. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  6. ^ "Financial Overview". Skateistan Website. Skateistan. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  7. ^ "Press Coverage". Skateistan Website. Skateistan. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  8. ^ "About Us". Skateistan Website. Skateistan. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  9. ^ Skateistan Cambodia Official Site
  10. ^ Skateistan South Africa Official Site
  11. ^ Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul
  12. ^ Skateistan Full-Length Documentary Official Site
  13. ^ "Skateistan awards". Skateistan Website. Skateistan. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  14. ^ "Skateistan Selected as Top 100 NGO". Skateistan Website. Skateistan. Retrieved January 10, 2015.

External links[edit]