Thanks to the growth of the economy in the last couple of years, Rwanda has evolved to an African flagship country. The annual rates of increase are mainly based on the construction industry, information technology and the service sector. Rwanda set itself ambitious goals for the future and wants to have the status of a “Middle Income Country” in 2020. But the poorest of the poor don’t profit from the progress: almost 40% of the population is living below the poverty line. 80% of the population makes a living from farming. But because of drought and soil erosion the harvests are getting more and more barren and the families escape to the cities. But even there, life is difficult and full of deprivation. Therefore there’s little room for the needs of kids and teenagers.
Especially in the capital Kigali, kids and teenagers grow up under difficult conditions. According to estimates there are 5 000 to 10 000 street kids in Kigali, HIV/Aids is widespread, poverty is omnipresent and the genocide of 1994 is still dividing society.
Many kids and teenagers lost their parents, can’t be supplied by relatives because of the great poverty or just ran away from family problems. These kids are exposed to dangers like violent crime or sexual exploitation. Many kids quit school and therefore they don’t have the chance of a better future.
With this project, Skate-Aid wanted to reach all of these kids and give them new hope of a better future.
With the construction of a multi-functional skate park on the property of the SOS Children’s Villages, there is a location where the kids and teenagers of the capital will have the opportunity to arrange their leisure time in a protected environment.
The skate park, which was opened in April 2016, will be used first of all by the kids of the nearby elementary school of the SOS Children’s Village. The school has 650 students, 75 boys and girls from the Children’s Village and the neighbourhood attend the SOS-kindergarten.
Kids and teenagers without any connection to the SOS Children’s Villages can also use the multi-functional skate park in their leisure time. The boys and girls will be supervised by a Skate-Aid activist and can participate in guided skateboard sessions on a regular basis. skate-aid supplies the required skate equipment, like skateboards, safety gear, helmets and hardware for the kids.
With this skate park they created a meeting point for kids and teenagers, who want to have fun and learn from each other at the same time. Origin, religion or skin colour doesn’t matter. What counts, is the own motivation to outgrow themselves sports wise, the group coherence and the enthusiasm for skateboarding.
Through skateboarding, the kids and teenagers develop new self-esteem, community awareness, personal responsibility and determination-characteristics which let them face the future strong and independent.
The latest skate park to be developed opened earlier in 2018 in Namibia.
Further reading: Building skate parks in East Africa