South Africa is one of the world’s most diverse countries, but it also remains one of the most unequal societies despite significant progress since the end of apartheid. Inequalities strongly correlate with race, and in central Johannesburg, extreme economic inequality within the city exposes young people from low-income backgrounds to social risks such as a lack of a quality education, violence and social isolation. Limited access to recreational facilities and quality education can also undermine children’s ability and desire to learn.

We have been active in the disadvantaged inner city of Johannesburg since early 2014, when we started running Outreach sessions in a previously abandoned skate bowl at a park in the neighborhood of Troyeville. With the help of local youth, we cleaned and restored the bowl. In August 2016, we officially opened our fourth Skate School, located in the Central Business District. The Skate School includes a state-of-the-art concrete skatepark and three-story education centre, with flexible office and classroom space.

Programs run five days a week in the afternoon for children to attend after they have been to public school. Older youth can take part in the Back-to-School program to receive homework help and career advice at the ‘Dropping-In’ center at the Skate School. Girls-only sessions address the gender divide and give girls an equal opportunity to join in. We continue to run programs at the local park in Troyeville where it all started, and with partner organizations around the city.

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