SkateQilya is Using Skateboarding and Art to Teach Palestinian Youth
SkateQilya Press Release/Special to Arab America
In October of 2013 a skate ramp was built in Palestine. Mohammed Othman and Adam Abel, two filmmakers who have been making a documentary film about a community of alternative athletes and artists in Qalqliya, organized the project and brought three U.S. professional skaters to Qalqilya to lead the construction. This included pro skater Kenny Reed, who will be returning to Qalqilya this summer to lead SkateQilya: A two-part camp and workshop at the skate ramp that uses skateboarding and art to teach community building and leadership skills to Palestinian youth in the West Bank city of Qalqilya.
They have just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for this one-of-a-kind program that begins in August and runs through December.
- All donations are tax deductible.
- With just $10 or more, have your name graffitied on our skate ramp in Qalqilya.
- Check out their Indiegogo page to watch the trailer and learn more about the project
Skateboarding is only a container for the project. SkateQilya will be providing conversational English lessons community service projects, safety and responsibility clinics, video and photography courses, and social media training. Skateboarding is an incredible vessel for these community-building exercises because skating, like other alternative sports, is flexible to interpretation and does not promote “winning” as a priority. There are no score boards or boundaries. Creativity and community are the top prizes.
Perhaps most importantly, skateboarding involves movement. Whether on a ramp or on a street, a skateboard is a vehicle for flying. In a trapped city like Qalqilya, play inspires imagination, community engagement and perseverance.
Part 1 of SkateQilya will be a three-week summer day camp August 7th- 25th. The day camp will host 20 youth, ages 12-16, from Qalqilya and the neighboring villages and will include both boys and girls. Kenny will be running the skate portions of the programming while Mohammed and Adam will be directing the art and community building courses. Kenny will arrive one week before the camp begins to train two older skateboarders from Qalqilya to be his assistants.
Part 2 will be the workshop phase and take place during the weekends from September through December. Mohammed and Adam will continue directing the project with the skate portions run by the assistants that Kenny has already trained during the summer. After spending three intensive weeks in August skating, expressing themselves creatively and building relationships, the Fall weekend workshops will emphasize more peer to peer learning so that these lifelong skills can maintained and extended beyond the walls of Qalqilya.
Kenny is a 14-year veteran of professional skateboarding and known as the “Traveler” for his work performing and teaching skateboarding in far-off communities around the world that have never experienced or witnessed the art of skating. Kenny’s sojourns include Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Siberia, Palestine…the list goes on! Kenny has already worked with Mohammed and Adam helping to build the skate ramp in Qalqilya and is familiar with that skating community. His experience working with children includes making several trips to Afghanistan to work with Skateistan, one of the most incredible programs in the world, using skateboarding as a tool to for education. Check out Kenny’s latest book with Skateistan, Some Time to Smile.
Mohammed is a Palestinian non-violent activist with several years of experience as a youth development coordinator with NGOs in Palestine. Mohammed is from the Qalqilya district and will be the director of the project. Adam is a New York based artist and filmmaker and is the outreach coordinator, directing the development of the project and working with Mohammed on funding.
Between managing the production of their film Qalqilya (which was filmed over a three year period) and managing the construction of the skate ramp (which required 10 months of planning), Mohammed and Adam have the experience developing, fundraising and executing large scale projects in Palestine. Working independently as artists and humanitarians, without affiliations with any political groups, they are respected in Qalqilya for their commitment to youth and their passion for giving voice to those on the margins.
PALESTINE SKATE SCENE
2013 was an important year for skating in Palestine. Along with the ramp in Qalqilya, two small ramps were built by SkatePAL in Ramallah and Skatejam in Gaza City. Since then, SkatePAL has built two concrete parks outside of Jenin and Nablus and Skate-Aid has built one concrete park in Bethlehem. Included in SkateQilya’s program will be trips to these other facilities in the West Bank. The skate scene is now ripe for a program like SkateQilya. Head over to their Indiegogo page and be part of the adventure.