Lesedi* is 12 years old and he’s been coming to Skateistan for four years. He has always been a social butterfly and his educators describe him as friendly, chatty and enthusiastic. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa, something happened which made Lesedi feel unsafe in his neighbourhood. Inner-city Johannesburg can often feel unsafe, especially for children. When the lockdown began, these feelings of insecurity became especially apparent for Lesedi and he was really struggling emotionally and mentally.
Vuyo, our Programs Officer, remembers feeling really worried for all our students.
Many parents also lost their jobs during this time because they were not allowed to go out and work. That’s what happened to Lesedi’s mum and she was getting really worried about being able to pay the rent. They were being threatened with eviction and the stress was piling up for them.
With that in mind, the team in Johannesburg started distributing food and hygiene kits from the Skate School, which was closed for programs. They also started fundraising to help support families in Johannesburg with rent payments during the lockdown.
This support really helped Lesedi’s mum, so she was then able to focus on Lesedi and what he needed to get through this hard time.
Vuyo explains how the team reached out to Lesedi during the lockdown:
When the Skate School reopened, Lesedi could not wait to get back.
He really enjoys dancing and the team are giving him lots of opportunities to express himself through dance. Now that he is back in a safe space, with adults he can trust, his old, sociable personality is starting to shine through again.
Stories like Lesedi’s really highlight the need for safe spaces where children are free to express themselves. When the Skate Schools closed because of Covid-19, many children felt they had nowhere in their lives where they could feel truly safe. Now that our Skate School in Johannesburg is open again, we are focusing on helping children like Lesedi to process what has happened and to rediscover the joy of community, connections and skateboarding.
Will you support us to get more kids like Lesedi Back on Board?
*Lesedi's name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy.