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Claire Perry recently joined PPI-South Africa as the newest PeacePlayers International Fellow. She’s still learning the PPI-SA ropes, and you can follow her progress here on From the Field. Today, Claire takes a visit to one of PPI-SA’s partners, the Indigo Skate Camp.
Dallas Oberholzer, founder of the Indigo Skate Camp, is one cool cat. With his professional skateboarding background and connects within the business, Dallas built a skatepark for area youth in a gorgeous area of South Africa, aptly named the Valley of 1,000 Hills. Our visit was prompted by our mutual connect, the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation, an organization that recognizes and funds international programs using sport for social change.
Our trip started with a 45-minute ride through the hills, the entire time listening to Bob Marley. No surprise: Dallas rocks the dreads down to his lower back and is trying to save the world through peaceful skateboarding. When we reached the park, after almost hitting several wild goats, dogs, and cows lazily crossing the dirt streets, about thirty kids were already skating up and down the ramps.
And not just pendulum-up-and-down-in-one-straight-line skating. I wish I could insert the proper lingo for what they were actually doing, but unfortunately my knowledge of skateboarding is about on par with my empty jar of Zulu words I am trying to learn. The kids, some as young as two, and others as old as fourteen, were grabbing and flipping the board and then somehow landing soundly on their feet, ending with a proud roll toward claps of congratulations from fellow boarders watching from the opposite side of the ramp.
Mostly boys were skating, but girls were there too. One girl, pictured here, was a good match for the boys, flipping and grabbing the board just as many times as the boys. Go girl go!
Along with skating, the youth also practice and perform traditional Zulu dances, play various instruments like the guitar and xylophone, and continue to tap their creative side with art sessions. The day we visited, about half the youth were creating and coloring their own version of mandalas, a spiritual and intricately designed circle to help the artist focus on his- or herself…i.e., a more interactive and youth-appropriate form of meditation. Again, it goes with the whole cool cat atmosphere and fits perfectly within the Camp.
Presently, PPI will work with Dallas to introduce a more life skills-centered program, with a specific focus (as requested by Dallas) on concentration, tenacity, and effective communication, necessary for skateboarders to feel safe when boarding. Further down the road, we will welcome Dallas’ coaches to attend our daily basketball and life skills sessions, introducing the Indigo team to the PPI way of using sport for social change and as an HIV/AIDS awareness tool. We hope to cultivate this relationship into a mature partnership, using our different methods for the same goal: to teach the youth of South Africa valuable life skills through sport.
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