Free Movement Skateboarding is a non-profit organization based in Athens, Greece. As skaters themselves, they know the many positive impacts skateboarding can have for one’s sense of self-worth and fulfilment; binding people into an inclusive community of diverse friends. Motivated to introduce these positive impacts to those in need with the support of UK charity Help Refugees, founders Will Ascott and Ruby Mateja packed up their lives, along with a load of donated boards and equipment, into their van and drove out to Athens.
Since January 2017, they have been working to establish connections with projects operating inside refugee camps, community centers, squats, the local Athenian community, and other skate charities from across the globe. They teach 8 skateboarding workshops every week, engaging 16 different nationalities, with 45% female participation over all.
Through our collaboration with Gabriel Orozco, we are donating 20% of the sales revenue to Free Movement Skateboarding. The funding will expand their program and allow them to reach a greater number of children within the refugee camp of Schistou.
“Marian Goodman has been such a great partner in this joint effort to support Free Movement Skateboarding” The Skateroom
Today, Greece hosts more than 65,000 refugees, most living in refugee camps with extremely poor living conditions and children suffering from a lack of access to education. Free Movement Skateboarding has therefore developed an outreach program by creating a mobile skatepark. Doing so allows them to teach workshops in different locations, including remote refugee camps, with kids of all ages and from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds.
One of the camps that Free Movement work with is far from Athens, with bad transportation connections to the city and is thus very isolated for the 800 residents it hosts. There are currently very few activities for kids, and limited access to education. The organization’s aim is to use skateboarding as a tool to facilitate developmental work with the young people of this camp. By taking a trauma-informed approach and providing a consistent, reliable and sports centred activity, Free Movement can provide positive role models, promote mental and physical wellbeing and work to facilitate integration between the young people from different cultural backgrounds.
Currently, they teach 20-30 kids each week and by developing this program further and launching a new over 12s sessions, they would increase this reach to 35-45 kids. Their objective is to develop a youth leadership program with the older children helping the younger ones during the sessions. This approach would teach responsibility, build healthy community role models within the refugee camp, and would further facilitate integration between cultural groups.