Over the course of 2022, Skateistan is aiming to increase our weekly student reach to 4,500 attendances. This is a huge increase and a really ambitious goal, especially given the challenges we have faced with Covid-19 and the pausing of programs in Afghanistan.
South Africa has faced some of the strictest and longest lockdowns throughout the pandemic and the Skate School gates were closed for long periods of time. We were very concerned about losing our student base and that many wouldn’t return once the lockdowns were lifted. However, the Johannesburg team is not scared of a challenge and they quickly moved to ensure that our students were still being supported and engaged by remote programs, as well as supporting the whole community through a feeding program and distributing hygiene kits.
The Johannesburg Skate School is now open again, and we’re stoked to say that it’s been busier than ever! Student attendance has been consistently over 800 per week (our target) since we reopened with girls making up more than half that number every week. This is what’s known as ‘a good problem to have’- we are so happy that so many students want to come to Skateistan….but we simply didn’t have room for them all.
So we were even happier when the German Postcode Lottery came through for us and provided funding for us to build a new classroom at the Skate School in Johannesburg. We got to work straight away on construction and we opened the new space just before Christmas 2021.
The new classroom fits with a lot of our goals. Not only does it allow us to grow our programs (especially the Dropping In program, where children can get help with homework, hone their study skills and explore new hobbies), it’s also an accessible space with ramp access, meaning we can broaden the reach of our programs for children with disabilities. We worked with Boxa to create the space and they use sustainable materials which fits with our green agenda. The classroom is also fully moveable, so we can change its location in future if we need to. As we’ve learned from experience, we want to be ready to adapt our programs and our spaces to suit the needs of our students and not the other way around.
The new space is now in full use, allowing us to accommodate more students every week. In fact, over 950 students are registered to our Dropping In program alone! This is key to Skateistan being able to reach that target of 4,500 students each week - we must be flexible so that no one is left behind.
We are so grateful to the German Postcode Lottery for sharing our vision and supporting our work!