P S ROJECT
Written by: Erin Chatelain
ustralians Oliver Percovich, Travis Beard and Sharna Nolan walked through the streets of Kabul, skateboards in hand. Traveling
as photographers and adventurists, the trio set out to see how war had affected
Afghanistan. Children watched on as the three stopped to skateboard on the streets of Kabul. By the time Ollie grabbed knee pads and helmets out of his backpack, the children were already fearlessly begging to try. Skateistan was instantly born.
Rolling proud through the streets of Kabul picking up
school and its only gaining momentum. By taking time to help the Afghani children, Skateistan has
and the Afghani people. “Kabul’s lack
in his Skate school proposal. Community
induction in the narcotics or arms industry or joining insurgent and terrorists’ organizations. But
children lined up to skateboard that he’s progressed to the next step;
finding sponsors to provide the
program with more boards.
Skateistan forged a unique trust.
Some days the children might see a suicide bomber or burned
car pill-ups, but Kabul is fairly stable. It’s possible for a girl in
Kabul to feel relatively undamaged by the war due to the tens
of thousands oforeign troops warding off Taliban influence, in
electricity in the capital city.
allowed to play outside, climb a fence or fly a kite.
and rent has inflated 200 times since 2001, due to
on borrowed decks, gleaming with confidence.
presence of foreign organizations.
The kids of the streets show up every day at 6am
With media attention from 80 news outlets in over 10 different
and 4pm to skate.
Through sharing boards, every
countries Skateistan is getting its fair share of the fame, which
child that shows up is able to enjoy the pleasures
inevitably comes with some criticism. Saturday Night Live’s
of being young, safe and happy. And many show
news update segment commented sarcastically that Kabul will
finally find peace now because a skateboard program was in
behind the project’s success.
But, all-in-all, the wheels of this project roll smoothly because it
“These relationships and trust networks are needed to build the
has merit, and because smaller grassroots programs often show
country just as much as the injections of foreign aid,”explains Ollie.
substantial measurable benefits comparable to larger projects
Like a father, Ollie worries that the presence of weapons sends
relying on excessive administrations costs and inflexible
a message to the children that guns and warfare are essential in
gaining influence in society.
Currently, Kabul hosts a population of over 4 million people,
because most Afghan sports are circled around violence
70 % of whom are children. Youth become vulnerable to
and competition. Riding needs minimal supervision and
homelessness and resort to playing in the dangers of mined areas, on heavy traffic roadsides or in abandoned buildings. Today, the plan to accommodate recreation to the many youth in Kabul, and those returning from Pakistan and Iran involves getting more skateboards. Skateistan plans to expand and build skate parks all over Afghanistan, and a handover and exit strategy with teacher training programs is the end goal for Skateistan’s Youth development Program. Its success relies on the assistance of volunteers and funding. “What we can achieve depends on levels of funding and the skills of volunteers that we can attract to the project,” says Ollie, who has been loyally volunteering his time since it all began. Currently raising money to build a skate school in a designated safe zone and ship more skating supplies to the crowded country, Ollie is working around the eastern clock. From embassies, to the media, Skateistan is always raising community and
donors. resources, and can be done anywhere with a smooth surface.
“A lot of people have offered to donate skateboards but
Many organizations are funded by a government dependant
in most cases a $5 donation would also be useful to us,”
on foreign aid and money spent usually doesn’t make a
stresses Ollie. Volunteering has also taken full swing with
difference to the average person. Skateistan is not about
international high profile faces showing up to skate their turn at
money interactions, it’s about personal interaction and building
Visiting the website www.Skateistan.org, becoming a volunteer
For more information, to buy stickers, t-shirts or
or buying a t-shirt helps provide a positive liaison between
to make a donation, please check out:
foreigners by pushing the children of Afghanistan to continue
to roll successfully.
Betty Magazine speaks to thje organisers of Skateistan.