Girls skate first: the skate club changing culture in South India

Kovalam Skate Club is a branch of the Sebastian Indian Social Projects charity, which facilitates access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities sto persons in rural, isolated communities. Founded in 2014, Kovalam Skate Club uses skateboarding as a motivational tool to promote education and gender equality for youth living in the slum area of the Vizhinjam village in South India.

Kovalam Skate Club operates by three main principles:

- No School, No Skateboarding Education is key to improving life opportunities of participants, and by extension the local community. The rule is simple: if kids keep up regular school attendance, they can come for free skateboarding classes and access free skateboarding material. Kovalam skate coaches maintain close relationships with local schools to ensure classes are being attended, and provide additional support to students that need it to reduce the overall dropout rate. In addition, SISP offers a free “Second Chance Education Centre” for drop-outs and at-risk youth that face significant barriers to traditional schooling. - Girls first! Firsthand experiences of domestic violence, sexual abuse and gender discrimination are not uncommon in the local community. As girls and women are perceived as “second-class citizens” Kovalam Skate Club makes their participation a priority in all activities, and has improved their visibility in the wider community. Girls are given priority in accessing skateboarding materials, and always take the first turn at the skatepark. With THE SKATEROOM’s support, Kovalam Skate Club will be able to hire its first women’s coach, encouraging more girls to participate in skate classes, and ensuring they are able to surpass barriers in attending skate competitions and group trips. - Keep Trying Skateboarding has the potential to motivate participants to truly bring out the best in themselves, on and off the board. The skateclub organizes regular workshops on developing life skills such as self-confidence, managing a budget, gender inclusivity and maintaining mental health. Kovalam Skate Club promotes environmental awareness through beach and lake clean ups as well as group camping trips to expose youth to nature conservation.

Kovalam Skate Club’s impact:

    • Daily Skate Classes
    • Free transport to attend skate activities
    • Free lunch provided for students
    • Monthly Kovalam beach clean-ups
    • Monthly Vellayani lake clean-ups
    • Annual camping trips and nature skills workshops