A skate park for Syria - skateboarding for peace & social justice.
With no end in sight, the Syrian conflict has ravaged through the country with increasing intensity. The past decade has been a time of drastic change for all aspects of Syrian citizens’ lives. The capital city of Damascus has had a central role in the conflict and many of its residents have since had to flee or be relocated. In the recent years, as relative stability returns to the area, while in other parts of the country the conflict still goes on, many residents have started coming back to their homes. Finding their neighborhood in half-ruin, bringing back normalcy has been a real challenge.
This project, like all of our international work, is based on youth empowerment and community development. In Syria, this vision takes on a new meaning as we play our part in the rebuilding process. In 2019, in cooperation with SOS Children´s Villages, skate-aid inaugurated its newest project: a multifunctional skate park in a remote area of Damascus together with recreational space and a playground. The community rejoiced and proudly united around the skate park – a new source of pride for them.
Along with the infrastructure development, the youth are offered a meaningful leisure activity beyond categories such as skin color, gender or religious orientation. The boys and girls are introduced to skateboarding by international skate-aid volunteers and can regularly participate in skateboarding workshops. skate-aid also provides the necessary skate equipment, such as skateboards, safety gear, helmets and hardware, that the kids can borrow locally. As a part of the concept local youth leaders are trained to run the project in the future to make sure the local community can take ownership. Daily skateboard workshops have been a huge success in bringing a viable sport option to boys and girls alike. In numbers, over 300 children have joined our workshops so far on a regular base.
skate-aid wants to improve the situation of the kids in Damascus. At the skate park, the kids should have the opportunity, in the framework of pedagogically supervised workshops, to let off steam, strengthen their sense of belonging when dealing with others and to overcome traumas. In a post-war zone, those children – many of them traumatized by their early childhood experiences of violence – do not have the options for sports or recreational activities which are so crucial to their development. Therein lies the importance of this project; through skateboarding we can begin a healing process for the children and empower a new generation with an understanding of the importance of peace.
The project was started by skate-aid e.V. München and at times also supported by skate-aid e.V. Essen. skate-aid international e.V. is carrying out the project since May 2019.
In Syria, skateboarding continues intensively and continuously. This can’t be taken for granted, as the situation on the ground is one of deprivation: continuous power cuts for several hours, the high unemployment rate and strict import restrictions. None of this helps the civilian population recover from the ongoing war. Against all odds, our team continues to work with all their heart to provide the partially traumatized kids with a safe space where they can be children and develop into strong adults.