What Skateistan learned about: running remote programs during a global pandemic

As an international organization that empowers children through skateboarding and education all over the world, Covid-19 brought a whole new set of challenges to delivering programs for our students in each location. We wrote about a lot of these challenges in our post ‘Skateistan Skate Schools Respond To Covid-19’, and detailed how each Skate School has adapted to a new reality over the last few months.

To ensure learning continues for students in their homes, our teams in each location taught lesson plans over the phone, or via WhatsApp. Students were so creative with their homework, and sent it in via WhatsApp to their educators. The Covid-19 realities are different in each location, and it is difficult to reach all Skateistan students remotely as many don’t have internet access.


In South Africa, the long lockdown meant that many parents couldn’t work and this caused food insecurity. Our team in Johannesburg responded by distributing food parcels and sanitary items for girls. In Afghanistan, teams were really worried about the number of children in Internally Displaced People’s camps who were missing out on their education. So they trained up some adults in the camps who could run classes during the lockdown. These classes still had to adhere to social distancing guidelines, but meant that those children were not as isolated as they would have been, especially as most in the camps don’t have internet access. You can read more about that here. In Cambodia, many students had no internet access at home, so educators made up packs for them to collect from the Skate School. This included activities, exercise routines and guidance on hygiene.  

One essential part of reopening focused on ensuring that we filled the gaps in reaching students from the first lockdown, ensuring that students without access to the internet will be able to learn alongside their peers.

Reopening Skate Schools 

While programs were suspended, the teams in each location worked on plans to reopen safely. And in accordance with advice from local governments in each location, we've re-opened our doors to students and staff in all locations. 

To ensure the safety of staff and students, educators are running Dropping In and Skate and Create sessions with the students while maintaining physical distance, and continuing education on Covid-19.  

This time has been really challenging. But we know so much more than we did about the ways in which we can reach our students, in case something similar happens again. We don’t know if there will be another lockdown, but we have processes in place now for a range of situations in case students can’t physically come to the Skate School. We learned all of the different barriers and realities in each location to ensure that we can meet the needs of students and their families. Some of these activities include continuing to support students and their families in Johannesburg with food donations and distributions, ensuring homework packages are organized and ready for students to take home should there be another lockdown, who do not have access to the internet in their homes.

More on what we learned about: fundraising campaign during a global pandemic 

Another takeaway we’d like to share, running a fundraising campaign during the Covid-19 crisis. 

In June and July of this year, Skateistan ran a fundraising campaign called It’s Her Turn which focused on girls' empowerment and the importance of female role models. As a team, we weren’t sure how successful fundraising would be in the midst of a global pandemic. We learned that our supporters all over the world engaged highly with positive news stories in this time of uncertainty. Our It’s Her Turn campaign had an initial fundraising goal of $75,000, and raised just over $109,000, surpassing all of our past fundraising campaigns during the months between May-August. 

We learned that additional assets that we created for the first time in this campaign, such as the creation of a photo series to share, as well as running live events through our social media channels which were successful in terms of engagement and reach for our campaign. 

While the pandemic makes the world seem so dark, news about creating access to opportunities for our students was really positive for supporters, which led to high engagement and support during the campaign.

If you have the means, please consider supporting Skateistan during this time as we work to reach our most vulnerable students around the world. To stay up to date on all things Skateistan, make sure you’ve subscribed to our monthly newsletter here.