Skateboarding in rural India

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62 63 WORDS AND PHOTOS: ULRIKE REINHARD There are a growing number of skateboard parks in India—both indoor and outdoor. You can find them in cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Mumbai, although they are not yet found in rural areas. The great thing to see is that all of these skateparks are working together with schools. In fact, one school in Bangalore will soon include skateboarding in its teaching curriculum. Some may ask: skateboarding as a subject in school? Why not, I would argue. What I have seen in the skateparks, and what I have heard from people running the parks, encourages me to think about combining skateboarding with learning. Here are some of the results we’ve seen when Indian children spend time at skateparks: • Boys and girls over all age groups and social classes are equally happy skating together. Keep in mind that, in India, boys and girls are usually separated because of religion and cast [or their social position in society]. • an increase in manners when dealing with each other • an improved sense of engagement, commitment, and dedication • a beautiful mix of children with various backgrounds coming together • more openness and a willingness to consider new topics In Bangalore, I met a 13-year-old boy who truly impressed me. For him, the skatepark is life-changing. Instead of hanging out with the wrong crowd and being a big troublemaker for his mother, he is now fully engaged in skateboarding. And trust me, he does it well! He is still refusing to go to school. He dropped out two years ago. But with a pretty clear statement, he told me that he decided to work and earn money to pay for his little brother’s education instead. He feels that his chances of returning to school are gone, and he doesn’t want to join classes with kids who are two years younger than he is. He is a very strong-minded boy, and I could tell he is smart and a good kid. He found self-confidence in the skatepark. It really shaped his personality in a very positive way. I was so amazed to see how he is handling the skateboard after only five months of practicing. I am sure, with or without school, the floor will be his! It Starts with a Skateboard “And they didn’t know what a skateboard was!”
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Transcript of Skateboarding in rural India

  • 62 63

    WORDS AND PHOTOS: ULRIKE REINHARD

    There are a growing number of skateboard parks in Indiaboth indoor and outdoor. You can find them in cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Mumbai, although they are not yet found in rural areas. The great thing to see is that all of these skateparks are working together with schools. In fact, one school in Bangalore will soon include skateboarding in its teaching curriculum. Some may ask: skateboarding as a subject in school? Why not, I would argue.

    What I have seen in the skateparks, and what I have heard from people running the parks, encourages me to think about combining skateboarding with learning. Here are some of the results weve seen when Indian children spend time at skateparks:

    Boysandgirlsoverallagegroupsandsocialclassesareequallyhappyskatingtogether.Keepinmindthat,inIndia,boysandgirlsareusuallyseparatedbecauseof religionandcast[ortheirsocialpositioninsociety].

    anincreaseinmannerswhendealingwitheachother animprovedsenseof engagement,commitment,and

    dedication abeautifulmixof childrenwithvariousbackgrounds

    coming togethermoreopennessandawillingnesstoconsidernewtopics

    InBangalore,Imeta13-year-oldboywhotrulyimpressedme.Forhim,theskateparkislife-changing.Insteadof hanging out with the wrong crowd and being a big troublemakerforhismother,heisnowfullyengagedinskateboarding. And trust me, he does it well! He is still refusingtogotoschool.Hedroppedouttwoyearsago.Butwithaprettyclearstatement,hetoldmethathedecidedtoworkandearnmoneytopayforhislittlebrotherseducation instead. He feels that his chances of returning to school are gone, and he doesnt want to join classes with kids whoaretwoyearsyoungerthanheis.

    Heisaverystrong-mindedboy,andIcouldtellheissmartandagoodkid.Hefoundself-confidenceintheskatepark.Itreallyshapedhispersonalityinaverypositiveway.Iwasso amazed to see how he is handling the skateboard after onlyfivemonthsof practicing.Iamsure,withorwithoutschool,thefloorwillbehis!

    It Starts with a Skateboard

    And they didnt know what a skateboard was!

  • 64 65

    All this encouraged me to run a workshop. So, eight weeks ago, we went to Jodhpur, a tiny little village thats about a three-hour drive from the bustling city of Delhi, to run a three-day painting and skateboarding event. Allthepicturesyouseeherewere

    taken there. The area is considered to beoneof thepoorestinthecountry.

    And the kids who go to school in this villageonly30%probablydohave

    never ever had lessons in sports or arts. Imagine they had never painted before!Theyneitherhadpaper to paint on nor pencils or colors topaintwith.Andtheydidntknow

    what a skateboard was!

    So there we were with our painting and skateboarding workshop endeavor. Almost in the middle of nowhere!

    The toughest part of the workshop was to find a place where the kids could skate because there are no paved roads in the village and no concrete places around. Theonlyplacewecouldfindwasa

    rooftop.Butitturnedouttobethemost

    wonderful place. Overlooking the entire village, we could see a working camel walking around, buffalos, cows, goats, andplentyof dogs.We used one part of the roof for painting and the other half for skateboarding. During the entire threedays,wehadabout100children

    visitingus,plusmanyelderswhocame

    byandwatchedwhatthechildrenwere

    doing.

    Andtheyweredoinggreat!

    It was so much fun.

    Thekidsnotonlypainted

    fantasticallywetrulyunlockedtheir

    creativity!buttheyalsobecame

    prettyconfidentontheskateboards.So

    what the workshop showed us was:

    Kidsdotaketheirchancewhenthey

    get one!

    Thereare100+waysof learning.

    Paintingandskateboardinggo

    beautifullytogether.Iassume

    because, in both cases, the kids see and feel the immediate results of whattheyaredoing.

    Kidsalwaysfocusandconcentrateif

    theylovewhattheydo.

    Itsnotallthatimportantthatthings

    aredoneorsetupprofessionally.Its

    much more important to just start doing them!

    And above all: Alearningenvironmentmatters.

    Thisexperimentencouragedusto

    continue with our workshops, and we are even thinking about building a small skatepark in the village of Jodhpurwith help from near and far.

    _________________Ulrike Reinhard is the founder and editor of we-magazine, which aims to examine how we can change the world for the good with the use of the Internet. In all her work, Ulrike tries to empower people and change lives, as well as the world. For more information on the endeavors of we-magazine, including its efforts to build a skatepark in Jodhpur, you can

    email [email protected]