Kids skating ahead in Kabul – literally

By Anne Collier

Don’t miss this beautiful 8.5-min. video, “Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul,” depicting youth advocacy in its purist form. “Skateboarding’s a fantastic way to get kids to communicate with each other and build relationships with each other,” says founder Shana Nolan, and the main focus of Skateistan is to build kids’ confidence and give them a voice.” In this video, you can see how that happens. Says Fazilla, a 12-year-old skater (think about it: girls in a youth empowerment program in Afghanistan), a member of a large family that struggles to find enough to eat, “at Skateistan, I don’t feel my surroundings are ruined. I feel I’m in a nice place.” About that, Nolan says, “There’s nothing like watching an Afghan woman rolling down a ramp for the first time. She’s achieved something she never thought she would.” Skateistan is two things: Kabul’s first skatepark and “the world’s first co-ed skateboarding school, where a team of international volunteers work with girls and boys between the ages of 5 and 17, an age group largely untouched by other aid programmes,” according to the description by filmmakers Grain Media in London. Here’s a page with links to lots of media coverage in Skateistan’s own Web site. The full-length version of the Cinema for Peace Award-winning Skateistan film premiered January 29th and was just screened in Berlin.

Obviously this remarkable project is about humanity, not technology, which is why I’m highlighting it in NetFamilyNews. Because humanity is what youth online safety is really about, the research is showing us more and more. And if online safety isn’t about youth agency (representing them as citizens, stakeholders, and protectors online and offline), it’s not youth advocacy – which means it needs to take a queue from Skateistan. [Thanks to my skier/skater son Willem for pointing this video out.]

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