Skateistan opens covered skateboard facility for youth in Cambodia (VIDEO)


Maro, 8 skateboards inside an old concrete fountain on January 31, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. After decades of war many Afghan youth badly need an option for recreation. With a lack of city parks available expert skateboarder Oliver Percovich from Melbourne, Australia is attempting to open the country's first skateboarding school called Skateistan this spring. The Skateistan project is growing in popularity and now has the support of Afghan authorities with the German Foreign Ministry donating 70,000 USD.


Paula Bronstein

Skateboarding for peace? That's the precept behind Skateistan, a NGO that hopes to get kids in Afghanistan and Cambodia off the streets—by handing them a skateboard.

Skateistan announced that its completed a long-awaited covered skateboarding facility in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, according to Transworld Business.

The covered skatepark (a necessity in monsoon-prone Cambodia) has ramps, a quarterpipe, a "bank," and free guidance for aspirant Khmer shredders—as well as art classes and other community support.

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It's hoped that street children who become used to the structure and routine of attending classes at the Skateistan park will go on to enroll in school, operations manager Brandon Gomez told the Phnom Penh Post. 

Kids have already been allowed to test out the park, according to the Phnom Penh Post—although it won't officially open until September 28th, when an opening ceremony will be held in the capitol. 

Originally launched in Afghanistan in 2007, Skateistan decided to branch out into Cambodia in March of 2011, addressing the needs of underserved Khmer youth. According to their website, they also have operations in Pakistan—and in all countries, girls are actively encouraged to participate. 

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The opening is particularly poignant for Skateistan: earlier this month, six young people were killed in a tragic suicide bomb attack in Kabul.

Four of the children killed were affiliated with Skateistan, incuding instructors 17-year-old Nawab and 14-year-old Khorsid, as well as 13-year-old Mohammad Eesa and Khorsid's 8-year-old sister, Parwana. 

14-year-old Navid was injured by shrapnel, and is still in the hospital. 

Here's video of what Skateistan Cambodia has been up to recently.