With skateboarding’s inherent blend of physicality, creativity, entrepreneurialism and international community it is perhaps unsurprising that non-profit organizations have long been a part of the sport’s communal spirit. However, in the last decade or so, these skateboarding charities and social enterprises have become increasingly numerous, active and global in scope. Here’s a rundown of what this movement is all about. The players involved, the tools, activities and goals they employ, as well as tips on how to get involved.
From national to international focus
Local skateboarding non-profit organizations have been around for a while. The Tony Hawk Foundation, for instance, which funds skateparks for underprivileged American youth, was established over 15 years ago. To-date, the organization has awarded over $5.7 million to public skatepark projects all around the US. Nibwaakaawin, similarly, is a non-profit that focuses on empowering American indigenous communities through skateboarding, and has been active in the US since 2006.
Yet in the past decade or so a marked shift has occurred in this movement. Whereas these first non-profits tended to focus on their immediate social environments, many organizations today are increasingly active across national boundaries, alleviating social problems through skateboarding in regions thousands of miles from their home communities.
Some of these organizations, such as Make Life Skate Life or Skate-aid, fundraise and build free skateparks for kids in Third World countries. Others, such as Cuba Skate or Boards for Hope, provide boards and equipment to regions where they are simply not available. But what unites them is the tool they employ to create social change, namely skateboarding.
As of 2017, these organizations have built free community skateparks for kids in Ethiopia, Bolivia, Palestine, Rwanda, India, Peru, Nepal and Jordan, just to mention a few. They have also employed skateboarding as a tool to enrol children into formal education, such as Skateistan’s award-winning projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.
New projects and players on the scene
While a lot has been achieved in only a few short years, these non-profits don’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, Make Life Skate Life is currently building a park in Morocco. And they also have a project lined up in North-Eastern Iraq for March 2018.
New skateboarding-related non-profits are also constantly emerging. The Community Collective, for instance, started just a few years ago, but has already managed to fundraise and construct free skateparks for communities in Myanmar, India and Nepal.
FarawaySkateshops, an online platform dedicated to emerging skate scenes in the Global South, similarly launched only this fall. The platform offers great resources for both skate communities in need and people wishing to get involved in the movement. Additionally, they also help individuals and organizations fundraise for skateparks and programmes. And support grassroots skateboarding entrepreneurship through outreach and capacity building.
"If your idea of the good life includes a plane ticket, board, shovel and some very excited locals, you might be…
One of the greatest contributions of FarawaySkateshops is undoubtedly its recently published listings of volunteering opportunities abroad with skate-related non-profit organizations. They update these continuously, so if you’re adventurous and want to help out, make sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
A cause worthy of support
Through building skateparks, handing out boards, and combining skate lessons with social and educational curricula, skateboarding non-profits employ the sport around the world as a means to create positive change. They work to create solidarity amongst people suffering from economic inequality, gender discrimination, or social exclusion. They provide the joy of skateboarding to communities where few other outlets for play and community socialization exist. In short, these organizations spread skateboarding to disadvantaged communities. And in so doing, promote the widely beneficial benefits that the sport naturally provides.
If you’d like to support the efforts of these organizations there’s a range of ways to do so. As non-profits, these ventures rely on publicity and public awareness for support and funding. So simply sharing and liking their pages and content can go a long way.
These organizations also depend on voluntary contributions to run all their programmes. And as such, donations is undeniably the most important and direct way you can make a difference.
Finally, you might want to think about getting involved in a skateboarding non-profit yourself. FarawaySkateshops currently lists open volunteering positions in Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia, Tanzania and Palestine.
Volunteering as a skateboard instructor for kids in Peru doesn’t sound too bad, does it?