09 February 2020

British history-making skateboarder Sky Brown backs Skateistan programme which offers freedom and education to girls in Afghanistan

Sky Brown doesn't just spend her time practising her skills, she is also an ambassador for Skateistan, a charitable organisation in Afghanistan that uses skateboarding to enhance the lives of young children and girls in particular.

Eleven-year-old Sky, who is on course to become Britain's youngest ever Olympian in Tokyo this summer, has been a "Citizen of Skateistan" for three years acting as an ambassador and helped them open a skate school in Phnom Penh in 2018.

She donates proceeds from skateboard decks on which she collaborated and also dons the Skateistan logo on her own board.

The theme at the centre of Skateistan's movement is to 'empower children through skateboarding and creative education' in 'a place where they can feel free from fear'.

In a country where most women and girls are not taught to read, Skateistan combines skateboarding with school studies to provide girls with an education while giving them a healthy outlet through the art of skateboarding.

A keen skater proudly shows off her board (Skateistan)

Founded in Kabul in 2007 by Australian skateboarder Oliver Perovich, the weekly attendance has continued to rocket and reached 2,351 in 2019, of which almost half (43%) were girls.

"The whole idea is that we were building something for the kids in Afghanistan and it doesn't matter if they're poor or rich or coming from different ethnicities," said Perovich, who admits he originally only brought skateboards on his travels because he thought it might help him 'make some skateboard buddies'.

Skateistan has also drawn the attention of skateboarding royalty, America's Tony Hawk, and has been made into a documentary entitled Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (if You're a Girl) by American film-maker Carol Dysinger. 

In the film, one 12-year-old girl tells how it is tradition that once a girl grows up she doesn't go outside. She points to the case of her own sister, who is one year her senior and is already shut away.

She finished with the powerful statement: "I don't want to grow up, so I can skate forever." 

The film scooped a BAFTA for best British short film and is in the running for an Oscar in Los Angeles on Sunday.

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