Skateboard Diplomacy: Kenny Reed on Skateistan and Girl Power In Mazar-i-Sharif
Facilities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Cambodia teach community building, leadership, creative arts, and, of course, shredding.
Ever wonder what it’s like to go skateboarding in Kabul, Afghanistan? American pro skater Kenny Reed, whose passport reads like a tome, was one of the first to find out, back in 2009. He visited the country to teach local kids the sport in partnership with Skateistan, Afghanistan's first skateboarding school. In a sprawling facility that boasts a skatepark and classrooms, kids ages 5 - 17—many marginalized, some disabled, and 40% girls—are taught community building, leadership, creative arts, and skating by international and local volunteers.
Today, Skateistan's programs have expanded to Cambodia and Pakistan and another center is under construction in the relatively "safe" Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. This summer Reed, with a group of Russian, German and American pros went back to Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif to check on the progress of this innovative nonprofit and to skate the streets, and dirt roads, of Afghanistan. Reed sent these photos and GOOD caught up with him via a temperamental Skype connection somewhere between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan while he was detained at immigration en route to a bachelor party... but that's another story.