SOS Children’s Villages Syria and Skate Aid Foundation built a skate park for children in Qudsaya to give them a place to play, release pent up energy, and begin to heal some of the psychological wounds after years of conflict. The park officially opens on 15 July 2019.
Qudsaya was a flashpoint in the Syrian conflict. Most residents left their homes for almost a year to escape the clashes and daily bombings. When security improved in 2016, hundreds of families returned and new people moved in. However, most of the children in Qudsaya still have no after school activities and no places to play except the street and destroyed buildings.
“This skate park makes me feel that we live in a very cool neighborhood where we can slide and flip with our skateboards like the cool guys we see on TV,” says Sami, 11. “Most of my friends in Qudsaya have the same feeling too, and we’re all waiting for the skateboard lessons.”
The skate park was built in an abandoned park surrounded by buildings where many displaced families live. It is also close to a public school with more than 2,000 students, and it is not far from one of the two SOS Children’s Villages in Damascus.
Skate Aid Foundation is a Berlin-based non-governmental organisation that empowers young people through stakeboard projects around the world. They previously worked with SOS Children's Villages Palestine to build a skate park in Bethlehem. For the Syria project they launched an online crowd funding campaign that raised more than €88,000. A voluntary construction team of eight people from different nationalities came to Syria in mid-March to build the park in coordination with the team from SOS Children’s Villages Syria.
Lamis Makhoul, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Syria, says: “Looking at children skating in Qudsaya skate park makes me reflect on how helpful it is to have partners who share our humanitarian messages. We are pleased that this teamwork will contribute to heal the children’s psychological scars inflicted by years of violence and displacement.”
From the moment the volunteers arrived in Qudsaya, many children pitched in to help the construction team. They also asked many questions, the most common being: how can we get skateboards? Skate Aid Foundation responded by promising to ship dozens of skateboards to Syria and volunteers will teach them how to skate, and maybe even show them a few tricks.