“I want to study hard and be a polite person in my community,” says 9-year-old Soma of Afghanistan, as a reason for joining the Back-to-School program of nonprofit, Skateistan. “After joining Skateistan, my love has increased and I spend loads of time [there] because I can play, study and I can have fun too.”
Soma has dreams of becoming a talented pilot, however, for now, she is obliged to sell plastics to earn 50AFS (less than $1 USD) each day to support her family of 13. In joining the flexible programming of Skateistan, Soma is able to balance her work while gaining the knowledge, skills and, most importantly, confidence to change her personal and economic status.
Skateistan uses the power of skateboarding to attract children, particularly Afghani girls and street working children, and transforms their lives through education and leadership training. In Afghanistan, a country that has suffered over 30 years of ongoing conflict and where 50% of its population is under the age of 16, Skateistan’s programs empower children of all backgrounds and keep them involved over the long term. As students get older they can become youth-leaders, teaching others as volunteers or staff. The Blossom Hill Foundation has supported the Back to School program which reaches nearly 400 youth weekly and the Youth Leadership Program which trains and employs youth to lead younger generations.
"My teachers are so kind as they are taking care of me, providing me lunch and grabbing me from my working area and then dropping me off there after class [knowing I need to earn some money for my family]," Soma continues. "Even if sometimes I'm losing a small sum of money, I don’t really care because after studying and achieving my degree, I can become much more than selling plastic."