Skateboarders may not have a reputation as philanthropists, but Oliver Percovich is looking to change that. His charity organization, Skateistan, aims to bring education, camaraderie, and fun to the youth of Kabul in Afghanistan.
After moving to the war-torn city in 2007, Percovich’s skate habits in the street began to draw the attention of the local children, who were mesmerized by what he could do on his board. Now, five years later, he operates a skate park that has become a safe haven for hundreds of children, with a new, even bigger park being built to handle the massive turnouts.
Young girls have been especially interested in skateboarding, as Afghan culture bars girls from participating in boys’ sports after age 12. By enlisting girls to give skate lessons, they have opened up the sport to both sexes.
Skateistan has also expanded to Cambodia, where skater Ben Pecqeur is heading up operations.
While everything Skateistan has done has been overwhelmingly positive, the heartbreaking reality of life in Afghanistan cannot be escaped. On Sept. 8, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb outside the International Security Assistance Force headquarters, where many children sell trinkets to support their families. Six children lost their lives, and four of them were students, volunteers, and youth leaders at Skateistan.
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