Sharing Knowledge, One Push at a Time

At Skateistan, we believe that skateboarding can be a force for good all over the world. In the last 10 years, we’ve learned many lessons about how to use skateboarding programs effectively to empower young people and to bring communities together. At the recent Pushing Boarders event in London, we announced the launch of The Goodpush Alliance, a pilot project to share what we’ve learned with other skateboarding-for-good organizations around the world.

Words by Rhianon.

It’s been 10 years since Skateistan started our first programs for kids in the streets of Afghanistan, and in that time the number of projects using skateboarding for social change around the world has grown massively. While our core work is focused on the 2,000+ young people we work with each week, we believe it’s the perfect time to reach out and share our knowledge ­– both our successes and challenges — with others who seek to use skateboarding as a tool for good. Together, we can have a much bigger impact and change more kids’ lives through our shared love of skateboarding.

So it was perfect timing to be invited to the Pushing Boarders event held earlier this month in London, UK, which brought together skateboarders, community leaders and renowned scholars to explore the social impact of skateboarding worldwide. This was the first international event with a focus on skateboarding for good, and we at Skateistan were honored to have our Founder and Executive Director Oliver Percovich speak on the “Globally Stoked” panel, together with speakers from SkatePal, Make Life Skate Life, Skate-Aid and Free Movement Skateboarding.

Oliver Percovich (second from right) with the Globally Stoked panel at Pushing Boarders. Photo: Emil Agerskov

We were also excited to announce during the event that this year we’ve launched the Goodpush Alliance — our first step in supporting and sharing knowledge among social skate projects worldwide. Currently in a research and development stage, Goodpush has selected three organizations as pilot partners to take part in six months of tailored consulting and receive a $5,000 award: SkateQilya (Palestine), 7Hills (Jordan), and Make Life Skate Life (global). In late 2018, we’ll release a package of online resources for running programs, community engagement, and behind the scenes management. This will be free of charge for any organisation which is trying to make a positive difference through skateboarding.

We’ve also collaborated with Pushing Boarders to launch the first Survey of Social Skateboarding Projects Worldwide, so that we can gather a comprehensive overview on the impact, aims, and activities of this growing global movement.

Pushing Boarders took place over the course of three days and had over 1,300 people sign up for panels and Q&As on topics ranging from urban planning, race and gender-identity, to the skate charity movement, with 200–300 people packed into each session and many more unable to get a seat. Unlike most global skate events, the focus of Pushing Boarders wasn’t on the industry or brand posturing, but instead on the essence of skateboarding itself, and its ability to bring like-minded people together to celebrate positive disruption. Speakers included legendary pros and pioneers Elissa Steamer, Jaime Reyes, Lucy Adams and Karl Watson, as well as leading skate-focused academics Iain Borden and Ocean Howell.

For Skateistan, it was an unmissable opportunity to meet so many of the founders and volunteers of community skateboarding projects face-to-face — a rare chance to share knowledge and learn from others — culminating in an epic skate session at Southbank.

The Pushing Boarders event made it clear that the power of skateboarding to create social change is exceptional, but there’s still a lot of untapped potential. The accessibility of skating and the pure fun of it can be used as a tool to help address issues like gender inequality, refugee integration, access to education and more. The reality, however, is that most skate-based social projects do a lot with limited resources, and we feel we have the potential to help make those journeys easier by sharing the knowledge and experience of our team.

If you are part of a social skateboarding project do the survey now and share it with others: The survey deadline is June 30, 2018! The survey is open to anyone involved at any level in a skateboarding-for-good initiative, and the combined results will be shared publicly, providing insightful data to demonstrate the reach and influence of our projects around the world.

The Goodpush Alliance is supported by a WeWork Creator Award that Skateistan won in 2017 so that we can scale up our impact and collaborate with social skateboarding projects around the world.