Getting ready for adult life: Nkosi's story

Nkosi* is 17 and he lives in Johannesburg. He was born in Johannesburg but when he was younger, his family moved to KwaZulu Natal. This was a really hard transition for Nkosi. Not only did he not have friends in this new place, but his schooling was all in Zulu (he was used to lessons in English) and sadly he failed a year and had to repeat. He took this to heart and felt under confident and sad. This feeling is something he carried with him, even when he moved back to Johannesburg. He was softly spoken and sometimes withdrawn, and he wasn’t finding friends who had the same interests as him. 


His mother said: “Before joining Skateistan, Nkosi was a child that did not know how to address things that were bothering him and he would just walk away. He didn’t really have friends his own age and most people his age were getting into fights and hanging out in the streets. When he had to repeat a grade, it was one of the things that affected me the most. At that point I thought he would hate school and I got really worried about it.”


After a little time back in Johannesburg, he started coming to Skateistan because a friend told him about it. He says that his first experience was “amazing because I had never seen skateboarding in real life before. I felt welcome when walking in here and the educators are always friendly towards the students.” Nkosi joined the Youth Leadership program, which he says is good because,  “right now I am in the 10th grade and at this stage it is time for me to be serious about my future and the Youth Leadership program helps us with that. It teaches us about what will happen in the future and prepares us for other things we will need in the future e.g applying in the university, how to get funding, and telling us that we need to push ourselves more if we want to go to university.”


Nkosi describes that the lessons he’s learned in the program have helped him a lot to prepare for his future.

“The lessons I have learned were communication skills, life skills and not to take things personally. Because of these lessons I am more confident and sure of myself, slow to anger and very understanding. I am more self-aware. I enjoy being seen because of the confidence I have gained now.”

One particular moment that stands out for him was at the Skate School’s Global Girl Event. At the last minute, Nkosi was asked to prepare a speech and speak in front of parents and the wider community. He did an amazing job and this showed him what he’s capable of. “I didn’t know I could do this, but now you can ask me any time and I can speak publicly with ease.” 


Nkosi isn’t the only one who has noticed a change in him. His Educator, Enos, says:


“His participation in other programs had developed his character. He became confident, assertive and understands who he really is. He gradually became good at skateboarding. In less than six months he progressed in his skating. He has shown that he can learn in areas where he lacks. He is always willing to help and execute his duties as a Youth Leader.”

His mother has also seen positive growth in her son: “Now he has made lots of friends at Skateistan who have similar goals to him. I am proud of him that he did not give up on school and he does well now.” 


Even Nkosi’s friends have seen the change. Sean says:


“Nkosi is my role model in the skatepark because he inspires me in terms of trying new tricks. He was the first person to teach the trick “Boneless”. He is always there to assist with my homework and he makes it easy to interact with him. I see Nkosi as someone who has potential and someone who knows what he wants. He strives for perfection in everything that he does. He is kind and does not mind sharing skateboards without educators telling him to share, he is just not selfish . I admire his respect towards the educators and other students. He is growing. The Nkosi I met last year is not the same Nkosi this year. The more he comes to Skateistan the more he grows because of the things he learns.”

Our programs aim to create future leaders for a better world. If you'd like to support more young people, like Nkosi, to reach their potential, please consider becoming a Citizen of Skateistan. 


*Nkosi's name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy.