Ahmed Hiwa is one of the core skateboards in Sulaymaniyah, deep in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. “We are facing a lot of difficulties when we skate,” says the 19 year old. “We want people to see skateboarding so that it be more acepted and can develop more. A free skatepark will help us spread skateboarding and allow more people to join us.”
War and instability in the region means Suli has become a melting pot of different backgrounds and skateboarding can create common ground. That’s the belief of skate NPO Make Life Skate Life who are partnering with Suli’s skateboarders to crowdfund a new park.
“Skateboarding offers an alternative to the politics of war,” says Make Life Skate Life member Samantha Robison who has been working periodically in the area since 2010. “We want to provide youth a safe space for free expression. We believe skateboarding can bring people together and make life better.
Through skateboaring people from different backgrounds can come together and develop a common passion. The city and region would benefit from a community skatepark where youth can learn, practice and exchange.”
Make Life Skate Life Skaters is run by volunteers who have already built skate parts in Jordan, India, Bolivia, Myanmark, Ethiopia, Nepal and Morocco. They work closely with local skate communities to build free, community-built concrete skate parks. Local partners provide free safety equipment loaner systems so that all children can experiencing skateboarding regardless of their economic situation.
In Suli, skaters from around the world will run workshops, making sure they reach out to girls and and refugees, helping local skaters get ready to run the park themselves. It’ll only happen if they reach their crowdfunding goal. They’re nearly half way there with only a few days left.
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