An international non-governmental organization that works with youth from a range of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to build trust and to provide empowerment through skateboarding and educational activities. It was established in 2007, and the first Skateistan facility was opened in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Words and photos by Chad Foreman
Zero Skateboards and Fallen Footwear have been supporting Skateistan since the beginning. Recently, Jamie Thomas was asked to visit two Skateistan locations in Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, Afghanistan in order to witness the impact they're making in the lives of the Afghan youth. Luckily, he called me to accompany him and visually document this amazing trip.
Jamie and I grew up together in a small town called Dothan, Alabama. We moved to California for skateboarding, and even though we've both been lucky enough to travel the world through skateboarding and visit some sketchy places, this specific trip had us a bit more nervous for obvious reasons.
Upon arrival in Afghanistan it was clear that this place was unlike anywhere we'd ever been, it was literally a Road Less Traveled. Being the only white Americans anywhere in sight, we quickly realized that the Afghan people were just as curious about us as we were about them. We were offered multiple times to local homes for dinner, which we did on one evening and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life (thanks, Hamdullah).
To experience Skateistan from afar is special, but to experience and witness their work at the two locations in Afghanistan was life-changing. Everything I read and saw about the country was untrue, but in an amazingly great way. Thanks to the Skateistan staff and the founder, Oliver Percovich, over 700 students go through the Afghan program per week and 40 percent of those students are female. Skateboarding is now the number-one physical activity for females in Afghanistan.
I'm excited to see the amount of talented skateboarders that will come out of this amazing country in future years, and all thanks to an idea from a passionate and dedicated skateboarder from Australia. Thank you, Oliver Percovich, for never giving up on the cause and for continuing the never-ending fight to bring skateboarding to areas where it means more than just the next trick—you're a true modern-day hero. Go to skateistan.org to find out more about this great organization and donate to help further their cause.
"Skateistan has been able to overcome extremely tough social, political, and cultural boundaries with a heart for humanity and the joy of skateboarding. This is one of the most touching and inspirational movements in skateboarding I have ever witnessed." —Jamie Thomas