THE GRASSROOTS SKATE COLLECTIVE
PAVING THE WAY FOR YOUNG UGANDANS

The Uganda Skate Community is changing the face of skating as we know it.

The Ugandan Skate Community is a multi-award winning non-profit and non-government affiliated organisation set up by Kizza David in 2012 was initially borne out of frustration. After receiving a letter from the National Council of Sports and from the police, banning skating in the roads and streets of Uganda David realised the need to create a safe space for this East African ever growing skate scene. Thus leading to the birth of the Uganda Skate Community – or USC for short – which has now been going on 8 years strong. The USC’s mission is to use skating as an equaliser, breaking the boundaries of both race, class and any form of being underprivileged.

The USC’s philosophy is centred around youth development, and skateboarding is used as a tool to unite and engage marginalised young people from all walks of life in Uganda. The image of skateboarding which was often seen as a very white, male dominated space and many ways still is; with its roots originating from 1960s California, has certainly grown leaps and bounds with collectives popping up from all over the world such as Motherlan (Nigeria) and Skatepal (Palestine). Although being one of the new kids on the international skating block hasn’t stopped USC’s grassroots organisation from taking shape and causing very everlasting positive change in these young skaters’ lives.

The USC approach is simple, they provide the equipment, the space and the time free of charge. Kids from low income backgrounds all over Uganda who may wish to, are able to access the skateparks, use the skateboards, and take part in skate sessions. The fully trained staff create a stable social environment which champions unity and equality: allowing them to learn new life long skills such as self confidence, independence and supporting one another as a team. For these young skaters, skating promotes their sense of identity and, most importantly, the USC provide good times and cherished memories which last a lifetime.

However the USC doesn’t just provide skateboarding related skills for the young individuals to take away with them, they realise the bigger picture: skateboarding can be instrumental in overcoming difference in deprivation. Therefore alongside the regular skate sessions they’ve also set up a ‘Back to School’ programme and a ‘Youth Leadership’ programme.

The back to school programme supports those skaters that may be marginalised in their pursuit towards formal education. This involves accelerated learning programmes for those kids who may have fallen behind in the education system for various reasons. The kids come to the ‘Skate School’ 5 days a week and attend classes which cover the Uganda National Curriculum. Upon completing this programme, they are then enrolled into formal public schools in order to complete their education.

They also provide youth leadership programmes, which involves roles such as assisting the teachers and educators in the ‘Back to School’ programme. Furthermore, those in this programme can further their skills by taking part in the planning of local events and developing a sense of ownership in the skate schools by mentoring other young skaters. The aim of this programme is to create further role models for other students, which would benefit the wider community.

The USC is currently in the process of building a new skatepark and every little helps. You can find out further information and donate towards their cause here. Follow the collective on Instagram here to find out more.

Words by Victoria Monari

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