Partner Profile: SPARK Schools (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Looking ready to skate! The Spark School students in their uniforms and protective gear before the session begins.

Last month we launched Partner Profile, a feature which puts the spotlight on partner organizations we work with worldwide. First we showcased Krousar Thymey, a school for the deaf we run programs with in Phnom Penh, which you can read about here. This month, we head to Johannesburg, South Africa to put the spotlight on SPARK Schools in Maboneng (the area of our Skate School). Since January 2017, the team in Johannesburg regularly opens the doors to boys and girls from SPARK, a local primary school with the mission to provide access to affordable high quality education for all South Africans. Through this new relationship, we aim to learn from each other’s educational approaches and hope to provide the students with a broad spectrum of activities and learning experiences.

A SPARK Maboneng student excited to go skateboarding.

SPARK Schools was founded in 2012 and has since grown to have 10 schools in Gauteng (a northern province of South Africa)and one in the Western Cape, with an aim to open new schools each year. It offers a uniquely individualized educational opportunity for students because of the focus on each student’s academic needs. Every Monday, students from Grade 4 and 5 come in from SPARK Maboneng to take part in our Outreach program which provides an hour of skateboarding for the children. It’s the first time many of them have tried skateboarding and they are getting more confident each week thanks to the sessions run by Educators Alan and Daniel.

“Even though I thought I would hate skating, I actually felt like I identified with the people who were training me. I felt content in that space.” — Bokamoso*, Grade 4.

“I felt anxious being out of the school yard. I felt nervous because it was my first time skating. But I felt happy and grateful because they gave us this time and they could’ve been doing something else.” — Baruti*, Grade 5.

Bernice McKee, Assistant Principal at SPARK Maboneng shares their experiences working with Skateistan:

“The community of Maboneng is one of creativity and collaboration. And what better way to celebrate that by creatively collaborating and working with an organisation in our community with a similar vision and mission. Supporting local industry in our community is one way in which we demonstrate one of our 5 SPARK core values, the core value of Service. Skateistan makes Monday’s fun! What a great way to encourage and reward scholar behaviour. We hope to be able to work more closely with the Skateistan staff with tried and proven teaching techniques, especially those in dealing with behavioural issues and concerns. Another area of opportunity for us would be joining Skate and Create with our Science programme in the intermediate phase.’’

“Skateistan makes Monday’s fun!”

Kagiso*, a fourth grade student, describes his experience at the Skate School as supreme: ‘’Having the opportunity to skate was like a dream come true. My first time being in a skatepark was one of the best things in my life.’’

It can be scary at first, but learning to skate together and step by step makes it easier.

Having the support of organizations like SPARK Maboneng enables us to reach more children and youth through skateboarding and education. Find out more about Skateistan, what we do, where we work and how you can support.


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