The streets of Kabul, Afghanistan are usually full of motorcycles, military convoys, donkey carts and UN vehicles. But today, those streets were graced with some different sets of wheels: it's 'Go Skateboarding Day', and in Afghanistan, it's a rare opportunity for kids to hit the streets on their boards and show off their skills.
The day is organized by Skateistan - an international non-profit that provides skateboarding and educational programs to young people in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Pakistan. "The big thing is to go skateboarding outside," according to Skateistan media director Rhianon Bader, who is in Kabul today. "It's the only time in the year with the Afghan children where we're skateboarding in the streets, and it's one of their favourite things". The hundreds or kids who are participating in today's event are students at a skateboarding school run by Skateistan in Kabul.
The school got started when two Australians who were working in Afghanistan started skateboarding in the streets. They offered to teach some local children, and then began bringing skateboards into the country to allow interested kids to learn how to do it themselves.
According to business magazine Fast Company, one unique trait of Skateistan's Afghan school is "the opportunity it gives girls to both express themselves in sport and in the classroom". It represents one of the few co-educational programs in the country, offering classes to girls like Ahlia, seen in the Radio Free Europe video below.
'Go Skateboarding Day' began June 21, 2003 in skateboarding's unofficial capital, southern California, and since then has grown to include countries such as Saudi Arabia, Romania and Cambodia.
For more on the Kabul school and its students, check out 10-minute documentary 'Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul' below:
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And for more on skateboarding in the region, check out this story and video from The Toronto Star about teen skateboarders in Sanaa, Yemen. They call themselves "the Arabian skaters".
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