On a worldwide basis, the power of learning and educating youth is a power indeed – the youth of today will be tomorrow’s rulers.
The importance of education is important everywhere, but in a country like Afghanistan, where females were allowed to go to school again within the last few decades when they’d previously been banned by law under Taliban rule, educating their youth can be crucial for the whole world.
The thing about bright sides is that there always is one, and the kids at Skateistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, see and know the bright side, as it is reflected in their faces when they skate.
In 2007, Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich shared his skateboards with some kids on the streets of Kabul. They shared the boards with their friends and the sport of skateboarding spread like wild fire.
Percovich founded Skateistan in 2009, a non-profit organization and school for kids to learn and to skate.
Though the goal of Skateistan is to educate the future of Afghanistan in a way not yet seen by most, a big focus is on the girls.
Even into my later years of adolescence I didn’t quite realize that learning at an institution is a privilege, not a right, even though it should be the complete opposite. The children of Afghanistan deserve the right to feel safe and to learn, and Skateistan gives them a place to do that. When the kids go to school, they are free and encouraged to be creative with their minds and their boards. The students, especially the girls, are limited by culture and law to what they can become involved with in their country.
According to the Skateistan Facebook page, Komail, who is a skateboarding instructor that started out as a student, said, “When I come to Skateistan I am away from everything, away from violence, and I can concentrate on sports and growing up here.”
I think ideas and organizations like this need to be spread, which is actually already happening. Skateistan has expanded to another school in Afghanistan, Cambodia and most recently to South Africa.
Skateistan is teaching children that they can do great things in their future in order to change it, not just settle for the commonly unsettling surroundings they are growing up in.
Students go to what we would consider basic general studies classes like Americans do in public schools, while also getting opportunities to get involved in outside organizations like THIMUN Quatar and even the U.N.
In a “Future of Afghanistan” blog post from Skateistan, Basina, a 13-year-old student from Kabul, said: “My favorite lesson was self-confidence, because if we learn a lot about this short word we will improve very much in our life, because to trust yourself is victory. Once we say we can do everything then we can put it into action.”
Seeing what these children accomplish in their lives at such early ages sometimes brings me to tears. Tears of happiness though, because I’m a lover of simple things, like kids being happy.
“The essence of skateboarding, if you strip everything else away, is that it’s about fun and friendship,” Percovich said, according to the Skateistan Facebook page.
I hope that we can be inspired by the youth of today in other cultures, including our own. I hope that we can be inspired to teach our youth and help each other learn that education is the key to success, and those who hold the education in the future hold the power. I hope that the power falls into happy and good hands.
If you’d like to learn more about Skateistan and the good work they’re doing visit Skateistan.org.