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Building peace and prosperity through skateboarding, education and Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Increasing access to and use of ICT for disadvantaged children worldwide, to better equip them for the 21st century global labor economy.

Photo of Chris Lowe
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Skateistan’s project will increase access to and use of ICT for disadvantaged children, with a special focus on girls. The project will better equip youth growing up in places of long-term conflict and poverty, preparing them for the 21st century global labor economy, as well as forging global connections through knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning.

The 18 month project will initially provide access to, and education in the safe use of, ICT for Skateistan’s students at Skate Schools in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Skateistan’s award-winning Skate Schools provide education to over 2,000 students through the innovative hook of skateboarding. The beneficiaries will be at-risk youth from low socio-economic backgrounds and female students who comprise over 50% of Skateistan’s students. Given that “women in developing countries are nearly 25% less likely to be online than men, inhibiting their ability to fully connect to their world and communities”, Skateistan is committed to reducing this digital gender divide by providing equal opportunity for all.

The project will then scale out the ICT education modules through Skateistan’s pilot project, the GoodPush Skateboarding Alliance. The Alliance comprises a network of emerging Skateboarding for Development organizations in Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. The ICT education module will be delivered by Skateistan’s educators and youth leaders trained during the start-up phase of the project.

The underlying project hypothesis is that ICT provides increasing opportunities to educate and connect citizens around the world in real-time at low cost. By deploying a Learning Management System (LMS) alongside a Social Network, Skateistan will enable online learning and create a community that spans all project sites. Skateistan would deploy this on a federated decentralized network enabling connectivity in remote areas with unreliable internet and bypassing issues of privacy and data security.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Skateistan targets children aged 5-17, focussing on youth from low socio-economic backgrounds including street-working children, migrants or the internally displaced. Additionally Skateistan targets children at risk of neglect, psychosocial distress, gender-based violence, economic exploitation, and other forms of harm.

Despite gender equality making headlines and the gender gap being addressed worldwide, it is still far from being closed. Skateistan has managed to find a way for girls living in places of long-term conflict and poverty to break this cycle and access education by aiming to include a minimum of 50% girls into its programs. This is achieved by creating a ‘female-first environment’ by actively employing female teachers and running weekly girls-only sessions.

Due to skateboarding’s non-competitive nature, Skateistan also promotes the inclusion of children with physical or developmental disabilities, working with approximately 140 children living with a disability

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Educational and recreational services are often compromised in places of conflict and poverty. Skateboarding celebrates diversity and encourages creativity in a way that many sports do not. It is often a new sport in places where Skateistan operates, providing the opportunity to target beneficiaries in an innovative way. This maximizes program success because once children latch onto skateboarding, much more is possible: education, community, leadership. Youth come for skateboarding and stay for education.

The opportunity for children to develop ICT skills will be a novel dimension to Skateistan’s programs, enhancing beneficiaries’ ability to use digital technology, communication tools and networks. Skateistan will also harness the potential of ICT, moving from common cloud-based technology and utilizing a federated network hosted onsite, avoiding issues around internet privacy by managing the network and its content, and mitigating problems surrounding unreliable internet.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Skateistan is an award-winning international non-profit organisation that uses skateboarding and education for youth empowerment through four programs - Skate and Create; Youth Leadership; Back to School and Outreach - which provide access to free sport and educational opportunities to over 2,000 children worldwide.

Website URL:

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Skateistan started on the streets of Kabul in 2007 when Founder, Oliver Percovich, saw the potential skateboarding had to provide an innovative route into education for marginalized children. Skateistan has since set up Skate Schools worldwide. The next phase is to ensure students are best equipped to enter the modern, 21st century labor economy. This will be achieved by integrating ICT education into existing programs that help educate and connect students, building virtual bridges worldwide.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Working with large youth demographics, who become positive role models, is essential to countering division, extremism and xenophobia long-term. Skateistan programs build trust between children and youth of different backgrounds, a much-needed first step towards overcoming ethnic divisions in communities. In Afghanistan for example, ethnic groups represented among Skateistan’s students include Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkman, Pashai, and the nomadic Jogi community. Long-term engagement leads to peaceful co-existence, breaking barriers of ethnic divides, gender inequality and discrimination.

The nature of the ICT training modules would be subject to local needs assessments but could include computer literacy, using the internet safely, and media literacy. Video-conferencing would also be used to share knowledge and lessons learned across the Skate Schools, including through Skateistan’s expanding Goodpush Skateboarding Alliance.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Skateistan works with partners including national governments, Olympic Committees, schools, and other local NGOs. Building upon over 10 years of experience combining skateboarding and education for vulnerable children, in 2018 Skateistan launched the GoodPush Skateboarding Alliance. The innovative project will leverage the enthusiasm and skills of emerging Skateboarding for Development projects and collaborate with their leadership to scale out Skateistan’s impact to other countries including Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. A key element of this Alliance is advising on the greater inclusion of girls and women in the program design of partner organizations. The Alliance will also release open-source resources online for the entire Skateboarding for Development community consisting of over 100 initiatives worldwide. Through this knowledge-sharing model, Skateistan can remotely replicate transferable elements of the ICT education to beneficiaries globally.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Strengths include creativity and innovation, in terms of how skateboarding is welcomed as a unique hook into education; collaboration, regarding local and global community partnerships through which programs are delivered; continued learning, aided by exchanges of best practice across Skateistan’s global community; and local ownership, in terms of programs designed by local staff working with local families and beneficiaries to ensure interventions meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Geographic Focus

Afghanistan: Mazar & Kabul
Cambodia: Phnom Penh & Sihanoukville
South Africa: Johannesburg

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

18 months as follows: Phase 1 (0-3 months) - provision of enhanced access to ICT infrastructure for children across Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Phase 2 (3-6 months) - training for Skateistan staff to deliver ICT training in the above three countries. Phase 3 (6-12 months) - education and training provided by Skateistan staff to youth at Skate Schools. Phase 4 (12-18 months) - remotely rolling out the ICT training module through the Goodpush Skateboarding Alliance.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

Skateistan’s Learning Management system.pdf

The diagram illustrates Skateistan’s Learning Management System (LMS) as explained below in the project idea.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh

Hey Chris! Haseeb from Pakistan here. Love your work. Purely selfish question: Any plans to expand to Pakistan?

Photo of Chris Lowe

Thanks for your comment Haseeb, we are focusing on scaling out our idea in Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, but will not rule out the possibility of Pakistan in the future.