A memorable experience with skate-aid in Windhoek/Namibia

I’m a forty-year-old skateboarder and surgeon from Norway who is on sabbatical leave together with my family (wife and two children). On January 5, 2024, we arrived in Namibia for the first time. In our luggage we had 35 kg of skateboard equipment, donations from the Norwegian skateboard community to skate-aid in Windhoek.

We met our local hook up Tangeni at the Paradise Garden Backpackers Lodge. It was a warm and sunny day. We picked up the skateboard equipment and took a cab to the school for children with hearing impairment and other communication difficulties (NISE, National Institute for Special Education). The skate park caught our attention right away. Perfectly located right beside the school and not behind any fence. The park is really well designed and with nicely painted details on the concrete. The school kids were still on summer vacation, so it was very quiet. We unpacked the skateboard equipment inside the skate-aid container, which was just next to the school building, and took some photos. After an hour Tangeni followed us back to Paradise Garden in a cab. We planned a second visit about two weeks later when the kids were back from summer break.

On January 22 we came back in our own rental car together with my parents. It was cloudy with local rain showers around Windhoek, but dry around the school. Tangeni met us and we were introduced to a whole bunch of smiling children at different ages and of both genders. They were deaf but we tried to communicate right away. The older kids took the lead when Tangeni opened the door of the container. Safety-gear first, then the skateboard. Some kids had shoes, others did not. My son who is 7 was integrated very well and got help from everyone right away. The skate park was gradually filling up until everyone was skating around. The kids were lining up at different places around the park for going down specific lines. I’ve never seen such good skating without shoes. Helmet, safety gear, skateboard…but no shoes and still ripping! It was a great pleasure and special moment for me to witness the kids, Tangeni and my family in between. Skateboarding is ’just’ one way to empower kids – but it’s a great way! After a memorable session at the skate park, the skateboard equipment was put back in the container. Then we shared some snacks before thanking the kids and the school principal for letting us come and visit. We had such a good time!

The skateboard equipment from Norway has been donated to skate-aid as an organization and not directly to individual children. It will be up to skate-aid in Windhoek to decide how the donations should be used/distributed in the best way.

Finally, I want to thank my dear Norwegian friends who have donated high quality skateboard equipment and clothing: Inger Johanne Stene at Mamma’s Skateshop, Hermann Stene, Odd Andreas Tjønnås at Berserk Brettbutikk, Marte Liberg Sundsbakken at Session Sandvika and Jonathan Struksnæs at Session Arkaden. And a big thank you to skate-aid, Tangeni and Gabu for making this visit happen.

Sven Haugvik

Sydney, Australia

January 30th 2024