Atefa* is from Mazar-e-Sharif and she is 14 years old. She has been coming to Skateistan for three years now, but when she first started coming, some members of her family were unhappy about it. They told her that skateboarding was just for boys and stopped her from attending. Atefa felt sad about this because she had really enjoyed coming to Skateistan.
“When they told me I was not allowed to come, I felt sad and confused. I knew I was able to skateboard and I couldn’t see why they thought it was only for boys.”
Atefa’s mother noticed her daughter was missing out.
“She really liked Skateistan. But she was not allowed to attend for three months. She was so sad and upset during these three months.”
“When they told me, you cannot go to Skateistan anymore, I became so sad. During these three months I just went to school without doing anything special. Every Tuesday, when I was going to my course and seeing Skateistan on my way, I felt so sad because I could not go to Skateistan. And every Tuesday I was attaching skate photos in my notebook and writing about skateboarding. I was imagining what tricks my classmates were learning and what they were doing.”
Atefa talked with her family and told them that she wanted to be allowed to return to Skateistan. She loved skateboarding and she had made really good friends there that she was missing. Skateistan’s Community Educator invited Atefa’s family to come and visit Skateistan so they could see what the students were doing. They saw other girls playing, skateboarding and learning new skills in the classroom. This reassured themthat it would be a good thing for Atefa to take part in and they told her she was allowed to start coming to Skateistan again.
“It makes me really happy that my family allowed to me come to Skateistan again!”
Atefa is a really talented skateboarder — she was the first girl in Afghanistan to land a kickflip!
Each year she looks forward to the competition held at the Skate School on Go Skateboarding Day. She has won it twice and that made her family proud of her. So proud, that they also encouraged her sister to come to Skateistan too.
Atefa now takes part in the Youth Leadership program, through which she helps younger students to skateboard. This has been one of her favourite activities at Skateistan.
“I felt really happy and full of pride. This was the first time that I have been able to teach something for others.”
And it’s not just skateboarding that Atefa loves at Skateistan.
“I learn many things at Skateistan, such as how to have good communication with others, how to teach a subject to others, how to find solutions for issues and most important, how to plan for my future.”
Atefa is currently in school and her aim is to finish her studies and become a doctor. Her family is now really supportive of her coming to Skateistan. Atefa said:
“My family’s mind has changed about girls’ ability. Now I can do everything that my brothers are doing and I hope that all the parents around Afghanistan know that girls have power to do everything like boys.”
Skateistan works to empower children through skateboarding and education. Over 50% of our active students are girls. Donate today to support us this International Women’s Day and help us to support more girls like Atefa to dream big and fulfil their potential.
*Atefa’s name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan’s Child Protection Policy.