Safe to Play: This is Mony.

For many of our students, day-to-day life can feel uncertain, even insecure. We provide a safe place from the outside world where they can feel free to skate, learn, play and dream. We’re aiming to raise $200,000 by the end of December so we can continue to provide children with places where they are free from fear. 

Mony was interviewed by Tin, and her name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy. 

Mony* is 11 years old, and she lives near the Skate School in Phnom Penh. She came to Skateistan for the first time in May of last year and joined both the Skate and Create as well as the Dropping In program. When Mony first began attending programs, her instructors noticed that she acted out in the classroom, had a difficult time listening to instructions or the Skateistan Educators, and behaved disrespectfully towards her peers. Mony had a difficult time sharing things in the Skate School, for example time on the computer or sharing her working space in the library when she attended the Dropping In program.

Skateistan Educators noticed early on that in spite of her issues listening or behaving in the classroom, she was very excited to be able to skate in the skatepark. During the skate portion of the Skate and Create lessons, Mony was always very motivated to take risks and constantly tried to progress on her skateboard.

Tin, one of her Educators at the Skate School, has been working with Mony since she came to Skateistan for the first time. “She was always extremely brave, she’d be the first student to try and drop-in from the biggest ramp in the skatepark but she wouldn’t take help from anyone and always tried to learn on her own.” Not only was this unsafe for Mony but it created an unsafe environment for the other students as she wouldn’t listen to instructions meant to keep everyone safe in the skate park. 

“When I first started, I felt so happy because it is a new sport and I wanted to try.”

Skateistan Educators started to adapt lesson plans to help Mony learn in non-traditional ways, like learning about appropriate behaviour towards other children through a game facilitated in the skatepark or in the library, rather than in the classroom. 

At Skateistan, Educators meet students where they’re at and encourage them to learn in ways that are best suited to them. Skateistan Educators saw that Mony was very receptive to the lesson plans that took place in the skatepark, so they added to these types of lessons by including a guideline of rules and behaviour to follow, as well as added time to discuss everything learned in the session. The time to reflect on the lesson plans in different learning environments was very helpful for Mony. At Skateistan we have an opportunity to teach in completely different ways than in more traditional learning environments like a classroom, which helps students like Mony understand concepts differently. 

Tin asked Mony what her favourite thing to learn about in Skateistan lessons.

“My favorite thing to learn about at Skateistan is creation, for an example, we learned how to make a backpack from recycled materials.”

In the Skate and Create program, Mony enjoys lessons that involve using her hands to create things, different items that can be turned into something new with an alternate use. In a similar create lesson, the class made photo frames out of recycled materials, and Mony was so proud to show hers off to her friends in the program and to her family after the session. With guidance from her Educators, Mony learned that you can use your creative and playful energy to repurpose almost anything. 

After some time, Educators began to notice that Mony’s behaviour started to change, and not only did she start listening to instructions both in and out of the classroom, but she takes the initiative to share time spent on the computer in the library, and teaches other students how to play and share by leading by example. She also helps her friends on their computer games, and shares her desk space in the library if there are other kids around. By teaching Mony how to behave appropriately, Educators taught Mony how to express herself in a way that enabled her to play safely by herself and with other students. 

"Now, Mony listens to all of her Educators, and remains calm and patient while waiting her turn to use the computers even though there are so many kids that are also waiting to use the computers. Other students witness how patient she’s being, and learn by her example."

Mony still attends the Skate and Create and Dropping In programs at Skateistan multiple times per week. Mony is an engaged student to her Educators and her peers, always excited to learn new things and help other students in the skatepark, the library or the classroom. 

We all need a place where we feel safe. Skateistan provides places where children like Mony are safe to skate, learn, play and dream.

Donate today to help us create places where children can be free from fear.