What happens when you teach street children how to ride a skateboard?
Instantaneously, you see joy, curiosity, and inspiration. As they become more involved, you see increasing levels of energy, confidence, positive risk-taking behaviors, creativity, self-expression, companionship, and so much more. When you teach a street child to skateboard, behind their big smiles, you see hope and enormous potential.
Currently 600,000 children live and work on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. They are physically, mentally, and emotionally mistreated by mainstream society. The current services that are being offered by existing NGOs in Bangladesh are very basic and most schools will not grant them admission because they are “working children”. These children face severe neglect on many levels: not having access to food, being locked out of their homes while their parents are at work, roaming the streets and marketplaces alone, and in most cases sleeping on the streets at night.
They beg and even steal for their daily needs and even become addicted to harmful inhalants that they abuse to kill hunger pains and relieve stress. These children enjoy the freedom of being able to roam the streets rather than having to sit in their small single tin room located in extremely polluted slum areas and wait for their working parents to come home late at night. Many of their parents also beg for a living or abuse drugs themselves.
Although there are free schools located throughout the slum areas, getting the kids to attend is a huge challenge. Not only do they want to be able to run and play and be kids, but they spend most of their time having to work or beg to provide for themselves.
BSKA is reaching the children who have fallen through the gaps of existing services by connecting with them in a unique way. We let them be kids by offering them opportunities to skate, color, and just plain have fun in a supportive and safe environment.
We offer housing, nutrition, informal education on social and environmental justice, health and wellness programs, skateboarding and other recreation, and creative arts programs to the street-based children and youth of Bangladesh. BSKA positively engages vulnerable, street-based youth with the sport of skateboarding that is new but growing in the country of Bangladesh and that has many proven physical, mental, and social benefits. Through these programs and services that help them develop necessary life skills, BSKA is actively and innovatively investing in the future of these youth who are full of life and potential.
We envision a Bangladesh where we no longer have to see a single child living on the streets. We hope to bring sustainable aid to the country through empowering the youth we work with to be self-sufficient and to lead environmentally conscious lifestyles. BSKA built the first public skateboarding park in the country and will continue to advocate for and construct public skateparks to provide marginalized youth their right to play, lead healthy, active lifestyles, and belong to a community.