Last weekend saw the official opening of Skateistan, the award-winning non-profit organization that uses skateboarding and education for youth empowerment, in Johannesburg. We are very inspired by this project in the inner city, which seeks to support young people within the city. At the opening, 100 of Skateistan’s students, along with guests and supporters including Tony Hawk and major partners The Skateroom were there to celebrate their big day.
Skateistan Youth Leaders and Educators provided guided tours of the amazing classroom spaces that will host Skateistan’s programs; Skate and Create and Back-To-School. Attention quickly turned to the skate park as the crowd watched pro-skaters join forces with Skateistan students for a special session. Skaters of all ages and abilities got involved and helped each other in the park, it was a unique experience for everyone. Then students became spectators, as Tony Hawk and, Birdhouse Skateboards team riders, Shawn Hale and David Loy plus South African skaters, Thalente Biyela and Khule Ngubane, put on an impressive and inspiring demo for all. The event ended with a girls-only skate session involving Skateistan students, staff, and supporters.
The Skate School is now officially open and programs are up and running. Students between the ages of 5-17, with a particular focus on girls and low-income youth, have the opportunity to play and learn as part of the Skate and Create program, or access homework help and career advice as part of the Back-To-School program. Exceptional youth have the chance to join the Youth Leadership program to help organize events and assist with sessions. Thanks to support from the Royal Danish Embassy, Comic Relief and Tony Hawk Foundation, over 200 students (47% girls) have already registered for Skateistan’s programs, with the aim of 300 registered students by the end of 2016, and more than 400 in 2017.