Skateistan has recently partnered with the NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) to bring Cambodia its first skatepark! Skateistan e.V., in Germany, supported the Cambodian project with financial support of 2200 Euro, which has enabled ramp construction and skate lessons to begin. Construction was completed last month, with the skatepark opening to a large audience of children on March 25, in Phnom Penh.
PSE has been working in Cambodia since 1996 in the areas of education and medical/social care for street children. The organization views the opening of the skatepark as a way to effectively integrate working, socially-disconnected and abused children into a disciplined, community environment.
Lessons will be given three times a week, and the first participants will be the children who are already provided housing and education through the organization. PSE also plans to start an apprenticeship program with its youth, who will learn wood and metal working skills, eventually building and maintaining skateparks themselves.
According to PSE, the newly built skatepark will be a space for much more than skateboarding:
“The skatepark is an opening for other diverse and innovative activities in Cambodia, such as contests accompanied by concerts and other urban culture related activities. Ex: Music, choreography, photo exhibition, movies about extreme sports, etc…”
Skateistan also provided networking support, putting PSE in touch with the Australian 360 Project, which donated 30 complete skateboards, as well as arranging technical support from expert rampbuilder Andreas Schutzenberger (IOU Ramps), who constructed Kabul’s skatepark in 2009.
In the future Skateistan plans to fund logistical, material and travel costs for IOU Ramps to construct an indoor skatepark in Phnom Penh with PSE, as well as teach rampbuilding workshops with local youth. Skateistan also aims to provide additional skateboards and safety gear. Perhaps most importantly, Skateistan will also share its model, philosophy and goals with PSE to help in the implementation of their skateboarding/educational programming.