Thabile* is nine years old. She lives in New Doornfontein with her parents and little sister, and she attends school across the road. Thabile and her family first moved to New Doornfontein in 2016 from another area in the city, she explained that she did not have friends or know anyone else other than her own family. One day she met a girl called Kat. They soon learned that they both lived in the same building, and became friends.
Later that day, Thabile was on her way home when she heard sounds of boards flipping and wheels rolling at Skateistan. She rushed to see what was happening. She was curious to know what activities there were running at the Skate School in downtown Johannesburg.
However, when Thabile arrived at Skateistan, there were lots of boys and they were also interested in skateboarding. She became upset because she thought the boys might be aggressive even when they are only playing.
At first, Thabile was shy to greet others and make friends. So she would go to the second floor to do her homework and study and for a while, she still had no friends. Lessons at Skateistan include skills such as creating a safe and welcoming environment, talking to people from other communities and kindness and respect. After a while, Thabile invited Kat from her building to come join her at Skateistan. Since then, she has made many friends and still continues to build new friendships. For new students that join the program whenever Thabile is around, she welcomes them to Skateistan, introduces them to all the Educators, shows them around shares the rules that we have here to keep us safe. She also helps to teach them to skate so they don’t feel afraid.
Thabile now participates in Homework Help, Skate and Create, games day and the reading club. She also enjoys being part of the Tuesday and Saturday girl sessions and life skills sessions. She values these sessions because they are only for girls.
In the beginning, Thabile was socially challenged, but now she has built many friendships, and she has also learned good social skills. This is highlighted through her favourite lesson about Human Rights.
Lisa, one of Thabile’s Educators at Skateistan, shares highlights of the progress Thabile has made.
Thabile has really changed in her time at Skateistan. She has changed from someone who would respond to challenges negatively to someone who helps others, shares her own experiences and is eager to learn.
Skateistan combines creative education with skateboarding and other sports to empower children. Through lessons that help children to learn life skills, to be creative and to think critically, we help them to adjust to social situations and navigate better through life’s challenges. Become a Citizen of Skateistan today to help more children like Thabile to discover their true potential.
*In accordance with Skateistan’s Child Protection Policy, Thabile’s name has been changed.