Oliver Percovich: Skate and Create Difference

Creativity has always been a huge part of Skateistan’s focus. For us, it’s not just about getting children on skateboards, it’s about giving them the space and the tools to harness their creativity. If we really want to create future leaders, we have to trust in their own creativity to come up with ideas and solutions that we have never thought of. I love the the words of Henry David Thoreau in Walden:

“The old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial.”

We have to provide opportunities for expression and outlets for children’s creativity. Instead of stifling creativity - telling children to stop asking questions or to stop questioning authority, we must encourage it so that they can solve the tricky problems that they have unfortunately inherited from us. At Skateistan, nurturing creativity happens in the skatepark and it also happens in the classroom, where we run creative, arts-based education. The idea of this is to give children an opportunity to explore issues and challenges that they may not learn about in formal school. We encourage them to come up with creative ideas around community engagement, gender discrimination and climate change. 


Personally, my main creative outlet remains skateboarding. Since last week it has been possible to go skateboarding again in Berlin, Germany where I live and it was a big relief. I know that many of our students are fantasizing of skateboarding again at their local Skateistan Skate School. I hope that it is soon safe enough for us to reopen and they can have their creative playgrounds back. In many countries, creative self-expression is not always possible or easy and it is another reminder of how lucky many of us are to express ourselves so freely. 


While our students are stuck at home, we have been helping them get as creative as possible through gardening, baking, doing artwork and making videos. They simply brought their Skateistan activities home with them and we are doing all we can to support them with art materials, phone calls and WhatsApp groups. On our homepage if you scroll down to “Updates from the Skate Schools” you can see in real time how many students we are reaching in each of our locations. 


At Skateistan we are looking at creative ways of staying connected. We started doing Instagram live weekly on Thursdays at 6pm CET/9am PST. The week before last we were lucky enough to have Tony Hawk interview Sky Brown. It was a very sweet conversation between two of our amazing Citizens of Skateistan (are you a Citizen of Skateistan as well?). Sky had some creative questions for Tony as well which was hilarious. Missed it? Don’t miss the next one!


We have also had a number of Goodpush webinars which brings a big community of skateboarders together. We don’t always have the answers. It is much more about creating community and sharing information between us all. It’s about pooling creativity and skateboarders are by and large a creative bunch with amazing new ideas.   


The creativity and innovation that the scientific community is showing to beat COVID-19 is inspiring. In times of struggle, there have often been huge leaps forward in our human capacity and it is no different now. Much smaller examples are also just as inspiring, like people finding ways to reach those who are vulnerable, people making their own masks (and for others) and placing images or messages in their windows to keep spirits up. Even small businesses have found ways to make things work in unprecedented times. 


Skateistan cannot manufacture ventilators or produce testing kits, but we can keep our students and families motivated and comforted. They love hearing from us and we can often give them important health advice. We let them know they’ve not been forgotten and through channels like this, keep telling the world about what they’re doing. No-one should feel that they are too small to make a difference. I’ll leave you with the words of the scientist Jane Goodall: 

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

In these challenging times, Skateistan needs your support so we can ensure that our students don't feel left behind in the crisis. If you're in a position to do so, please consider making a donation to Skateistan today. 

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