After more than a year of running skate sessions and art classes with partner NGOs and in the backyard of the staff guesthouse, Skateistan Cambodia was excited to open its own co-educational skateboard and learning facility for youth in Phnom Penh in September 2012.
One of Skateistan’s main priorities since Day 1 has been to encourage long-term student participation. To ensure that some of Skateistan Cambodia’s first students are able to continue attending classes at the new skatepark, Skateistan provides transport in a local “Tuk Tuk” taxi for some of its youngest students who were with the program from Day 1. Phnom Penh, like many South-East Asian countries, has overwhelming traffic and a lack of transportation infrastructure, such as a citywide public transport system, making it difficult for pedestrians to travel safely. The girls and boys who take the Tuk Tuk ride began skating in the yard and garage of Skateistan’s guesthouse, and without transport would have no other way of safely traveling to the new park.
The kids are all smiles after a ride in the Tuk Tuk together to the skatepark, but the fun really begins for Skateistan Cambodia’s students when they get on the boards. A regular day at the new skatepark includes two to three on-site skateboarding sessions each day, accompanied by an equal amount of creative arts or breakdancing classes. There are also some special opportunities for Skateistan students and youth leaders to participate in additional skills workshops, such as practising their musical abilities in Skateistan’s Turning Tables DJ lab.
The Cambodia transport budget also goes towards mobile skate sessions. In the early evenings, Skateistan instructors take a motorcycle, Cambodia's favourite mode of transportation, to our mini skatepark set up at a partner NGO. Here, our staff work with the volunteer skatepark monitors to supervise regular youth skate sessions. With 150 regular students (including 35% girls), and additional sessions with partner NGOs, there is a lot happening at Skateistan Cambodia with no slowing down in sight.