Skateistan, the award-winning non-profit organization empowering children and youth through skateboarding and education, is proud to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Johannesburg Skate School. Since it opened on August 14th last year, Skateistan has been able to reach more local children and youth in the Central Business District area of Johannesburg with their free recreational and educational programs. The facility now has 290 active students, of which 94% come from low-income backgrounds and over 40% are girls.
Although only in its first year, the positive impact can already be seen in the local community with students coming after school to attend programs at this safe space. Students participating in the Skate and Create program have shown increased confidence in the classroom and the skatepark. Tuesday and Saturday mornings are dedicated to girls-only sessions which have resulted in 40% female program participation. Now many of the girls, who at first only came for the girls-only sessions, are confidently joining in the mixed sessions in the skatepark. Older youth part of the Back-to-School program have improved leadership skills and confidence in their ability to find work and plan for their education both financially and academically. With the addition of a library to the Back-to-School classroom this year, students were provided the tools to encourage literacy and self-learning. The program, which only started in 2017, has 103 students, 50% of which are female. They have received homework support from Skateistan Educators, alongside tutoring from local university students. In addition to running the programs, Educators offer guidance and serve as positive role models, in fact, they are now the second most chosen role model for students (after mothers!).
“I’m really grateful for the knowledge I learned in the program, everything I learned is going to make a really big difference in my life.” Janet*, Back-to-School student, aged 14.
Skateistans’ programs aim to make a positive impact on the local community in the long term. Through partnerships with local NGOs, public schools and special public events held for occasions such as Mandela Day and Go Skateboarding Day, Skateistan has been able to create a positive and inclusive environment for the community.
Following a successful first year, Skateistan will continue to grow programs in order to reach more children and youth. In the second half of 2017, the Skate School will pilot girls-only transport that will take female students to the facility from various further away points in the surrounding neighborhoods. This will assist in cutting travel time for some students and will also be a safer alternative for them to attend programs, therefore increasing student numbers.
The growth and success of programs and the Skate School are made possible thanks to support from the Royal Danish Embassy, The Skateroom, Comic Relief, the Tony Hawk Foundation, High Commission of Canada to South Africa, Swedish Postcode Foundation, Google.org and all of the Citizens of Skateistan.