How Skateboarding is Helping Girls Believe in Themselves

Read how Skateistan is helping young girls learn to hold their heads high, one ollie at a time.

confidence | donate | Girls

Confidence in the skatepark and confidence in everyday life, Skateistan is aiming to give girls both these things at once at their Skate Schools in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. More than 800 girls take part in their programs; Skate and Create, Back-to-School and Youth Leadership each week. Skateistan also runs 14 girls-only sessions, catering to the need for safe spaces and privacy in order to achieve participation. By giving girls the right environment to play sport and learn, their confidence grows and they are more willing to try new things in the skatepark and raise their hand in the classroom. Many girls who start as students go on to become role models to their peers, local communities, and the world!

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“Since joining Skateistan my confidence has gone up a lot. Before I didn’t have many friends, but now I have a lot of friends at the skatepark and have good communication with everyone at Skateistan!” exclaims Dara*, a 16-year old Skate and Create student at Skateistan in Cambodia. She comes to Skate School once a week to spend an hour in the classroom followed by an hour in the skatepark. Through skateboarding, girls form friendships and think creatively about their futures. It is a levelling platform for everyone. “Boys and girls are equally good at sport. All sport is the same, if we love it and we have enough confidence it doesn’t matter if we are a boy or girl,” says a female Youth Leader who helps run the Skate and Create program that Dara* is part of. (*name replaced for child protection policy)

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Female students in Cambodia have been inspired by the female role models part of Skateistan, such as Tin. She started out as a student, became a Youth Leader and is now a staff member. Tin is also leading the way for female skaters in Cambodia. She is a huge role model to all of the Skateistan students and an inspiration to her wider community and country. The skate scene for women in Cambodia is very small, but Tin is helping the increase female participation through Skateistan. She is the Programs Officer and the best female skater in the country. Other girls see what she can do on and off a skateboard and believe they can do it too. But she wasn’t always so confident. “I’m really happy to share what I know, especially with girls. They can be shy or afraid to do what they want. I want to help because I was a shy girl, afraid to go outside of my community.” says Tin. “Skating feels fantastic and it really helped me a lot — to build trust with people, to build confidence and make a lot of friends.”

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In Johannesburg, where Skateistan opened their fourth Skate School in August this year, the growth in confidence is also noticeable. “The girls already feel more confident to try new things in the skatepark. Plus we tackle important topics in the classroom that help to build their esteem and life skills also.” explains Kelly, who is the Programs Officer. “When the girls are on skateboards and start to get better they feel empowered. They also do it together and form friendships with fellow students. This gives them a sense of community and helps them communicate and make friends outside of Skateistan.Kelly and the team host three girls-only sessions each week at the Skate School through which they are addressing the gender divide. “We’re all about making sure girls learn that there’s power in being a girl!”

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In Afghanistan, the Back-to-School students, who come to Skateistan five times a week, say their confidence has gone up a lot. Learning in the classroom is increasing confidence in their day-to-day lives, thanks to improved skills in reading and writing. “I used to be embarrassed to speak in front of the class, but now I can.” says a female Back-to-School student. At events such as International Women’s Day, the confidence is also apparent. Female students and Youth Leaders take part in organising and hosting the event, plus being a part of it. They put on a skate demo to showcase their skills to their families and the audience, many of whom will have never seen girls skateboard before. The impact is above and beyond just the four walls of Skateistan’s Skate Schools. “Since I have joined Skateistan I know how to deal with others outside of the home.” says a female Youth Leader. Skateistan is growing girls confidence so that they can become leaders for a better world!

Skateistan believes girls have the right to feel confident. From December 5th, Skateistan is asking the public to Give Her Five by donating $5 in a bid to raise $100,000 by December 31st! $5 provides girls with the opportunity to feel confident! Give Her Five at skateistan.org/donate

We will match all donations made through this link THIS WEEK up to $500 – please send us proof of donation to hello@girlsareawesome.com.

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