Skateistan & Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) Win Big at Oscars 2020

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) won Best Documentary Short Subject at Sunday night’s Oscars, bringing to light the challenges young girls face in Afghanistan. The girls are learning an activity that not only lacks popularity in the region but one that girls do not historically take part in. 

  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) follows a school in Kabul that combines skateboarding and education.
  • The skateboard school is operated by Skateistan and teaches 398 students between the ages of 5 and 17 how to skateboard.
  • The school hides behind a tall, unmarked wall for the children’s protection.
  • NPR called the documentary “A heartwarming and heartbreaking look into the lives of girls in a country considered to be one of the worst places in the world to be born female.”
  • The documentary is a reminder that skateboarding stigmas exist, but we have the power to instill change.

WHAT IS SKATEISTAN?

Skateistan is a non-profit organization founded in 2007 by Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich. As Percovich skateboarded around Kabul, he noticed kids gravitating toward the skateboard. Members of the community of diverse backgrounds and genders were hooked, resulting in a new community where social status did not matter. 

Percovich successfully combined skateboarding and education and has since expanded the organization to Cambodia and South Africa. 

HOW IS SKATEISTAN EMPOWERING PEOPLE THROUGH SKATEBOARDING? 

Though Skateistan educates both boys and girls, the documentary provides perspective on the unique challenges young girls face in the Middle East in particular.

While skateboarding is a major initiative at Skateistan, the lessons girls learn here extend beyond the skateboard. Girls are taught courage through reading and prepped for public school. 

“What we try to do is give children a place where they feel safe, where they can express themselves and explore their interests. We couple that with skateboarding, which helps them to build their resilience, their kind of goal setting, their determination and have a whole lot of fun at the same time,” said Jessica Faulkner, Communication Manager for Skateistan in an interview with NPR.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE SKATEBOARDING COMMUNITY WORLDWIDE

Skateistan continues to make an impact that extends far beyond skateboarding. It helps to redefine all over the world what it means to be a part of the skateboarding community.

The United States Skateboard Education Association [USSEA] and hundreds of other organizations around the world share Skateistan’s mission to empower people through skateboarding.

With the efforts of organizations like Skateistan and USSEA’s Learn to Skateboard Day, growing skateboarding and educating the public on its positive impact is far more attainable. The cultural movement brought to the forefront through Learning to Skateboard In A Warzone is empowering communities internationally to learn to skateboard and find confidence and courage through the activity.

The documentary effortlessly highlights the challenges young skateboarders face in Kabul, in addition to the greatness each student has within them, brought to the surface through skateboarding. 

HOW CAN I HELP PEOPLE LEARN TO SKATEBOARD?

Parents, skateboard educators, skatepark owners, and anyone with a passion for skateboarding can help young people learn to skateboard by organizing a Learn to Skateboard Day event in their community. Current LTS Day activation sites worldwide include:

Durango, Co 

Alchemy Skateboarding, Tacoma, WA

Skatestart, Colorado

The DEN Community Group, Oswego, IL

Sk8 Gym, San Francisco, CA

Curbside Coaching, Melbourne, Australia

Onboard Skate School, Palmdale, CA

Ningbo, China

For updates on Skateistan and USSEA initiatives, follow USSEA on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as we continue to highlight their progress. 

Don’t forget to follow Skateistan on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Check out the USSEA LTS Day information page for up-to-date details on LTS Day events and how you can organize an LTS Day in your community.

Interested in learning more about our memberships or how to become a USSEA Certified Skateboard Educator? Visit our website to view membership plans and the next steps toward becoming USSEA Certified.