At Skateistan we aim to put the safety of our staff and students first in everything we do. This includes and goes beyond providing safety gear for each and every student when they skate; it also includes looking after the mental wellbeing of our students, educating students and staff on the ways to spot and stop abuse and keeping students safe when global crises hit. We call this our Culture of Safety. With the coronavirus situation changing rapidly around us, we thought it was the right time to share our approach to safety.
Safety has an important place in our curriculum across all our programs. In Skate and Create, students cover lessons on healthy lifestyles, good nutrition and the importance of physical activity (provided in our skateparks, right after their classroom sessions)! They also cover more sensitive subjects such as gender, abuse and human rights. These lessons can be challenging, but we believe it’s right to help children understand the world they’re growing up in and how they can make a difference.
Our Back-to-School students in Afghanistan often come from particularly vulnerable backgrounds. Many of them have been displaced from their homes by conflict and some are working on the streets. Safe transport and good nutrition are often challenges for their families so we provide transport to and from the Skate School every day, a hot and healthy meal after classes and a portion of dried fruits and nuts for every student, every day, generously donated by Ziba Foods. We also have a sensory room and trauma-informed counselling available in our Skate School in Mazar-e-Sharif for our Back-to-School students. Children have someone they can confide in, in their own language about anything they may have experienced in their lives. It’s important to us that our students feel safe, valued and looked after every day that they come to Skateistan.
Our Youth Leaders also cover the importance of safety and even have a curriculum milestone to become safety leaders. This means they can help out in skate sessions for younger students and help to keep everyone safe in the skatepark.
Back in 2019 in our Berlin office, we appointed Imran, an international programs manager who oversees child protection across all sites. Imran has helped to develop our comprehensive Child Protection Policy and meets with our local teams every week to support them with any child protection issues and to provide training and expertise. We issue guidance to staff, students and families on how we operate within our Culture of Safety so everyone knows they can turn to someone at Skateistan if they need help or they know someone else who does.
Recently, the whole world has been affected by the spread of Coronavirus. In accordance with advice from governments in all our locations, we’ve taken the decision to suspend classes at our Skate Schools until the situation improves. There are no known cases of coronavirus among our students or staff, but this step should help to slow the spread of the virus and help the communities around our Skate Schools. Our Berlin team is working remotely to reduce contact. Before we took the decision to suspend classes, we ran hygiene lessons for all students on understanding basic measures to prevent the spread of the virus. We hope to reopen our Skate Schools as soon as possible but this will be in line with government advice in each location. It’s a very hard decision to suspend classes, and we, like our students, can’t wait to get back into action. But we’re doing this for their safety, and for that of their communities.
We still need your support in this time. If you want to support Skateistan, please consider making a donation today.