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This Cape Town Youth Institution Uses Skateboarding to Teach Valuable Life Skills
The skateboard project by the Salesian Institute Cape Town teaches important life skills
You may ask what does a skate park have in common with a social project. Shouldn’t you help indigent persons with education, money or food? When it’s raining, a street kid can’t use a skateboard as shelter much less eat it.
But it’s wrong to think that the skateboard project by the Salesian Institute Cape Town, which has been in existence since 2010 and is supported by the German Titus Dittmann Foundation 'skate-aid' and MyLifE, is just about two ramps and some boards with wheels. It’s so much more. Pastor Alberto Villalba, director of the non-profit organisation, which is initiated by association 'Salesianer Don Boscos', clarifies: "the life skills, which the youth learn while skateboarding, are the most important. They are needed in every other project, which is organised by us."
The other four projects are working for the street youth (between 11- and 24-years-old) in Cape Town and surrounding areas. 'Learn to Live' is an informal school where children are taught in basics of literacy and math; the 'Don Bosco Hostel' is a shelter for street kids; the '16 + outreach programme' reinserts children into society by getting a formal job; and 'Youth Employment Skills' works with youth who have already finished their school, but were not able to go for further studies or training.
From August to November 2010 two trainers taught the kids twice a week for three hours a time. This year unfortunately there’s no money for these trainers. But, luckily the skate park is still open for every skateboard freak. And so there are both street kids and students from the university, who skate during their break time; they help and motivate each other.
Learning for life
Street kids with a tragic background come to the skate park: they’re either living on the streets far away from their families, or they’re living in townships with their unemployed parent, or are drug-addicted and lacking in motivation themselves. The skateboarding should work against these personal dilemmas. The sport is a challenging hobby dispelling boredom and frustration. Because of the continuous practice the kids learn willpower and endurance. If a trick is works out the kids get an extra boost of self-confidence.
So, on the one hand the skateboard project assists the other big projects by the Salesian Institute. "On the other hand the project stands for itself, it is unique in Cape Town", says Alberto. Above all, the most important thing is that the kids have fun while skating and thereby forgetting their problems for at least a few hours.
by Anne Wallrabe
2 Somerset Road | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 4251424 | www.salesians.org.za.
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Big into skateboarding? Read about Boardhub, a Long Street-based shop that stocks a large selection of sick skating gear.
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