A community of skateboarders has existed in Yangon since the mid 1990’s. Living under a military regime isolated from the rest of the world, skateboarders in Yangon spent decades riding poor quality skateboards while receiving no support from their government. With the opening up of the country in recent years, quality skateboarding equipment has begun to make its way to the country. Prior to construction of the skatepark there were already over 100 active skateboarders in Yangon.
Construction of the 400 sq. meter skatepark was completed in December 2015, led by a team of professional skatepark builders from around the world working as volunteers. They not only donated their time and skills to build a skatepark, but worked with local skateboarders to share their knowledge in the art of skatepark construction, creating a truly community-built skatepark. Local skateboarders were provided with the tools, materials, and knowledge to create their own skatepark. After construction, the skatepark was painted by local youth and partner organization AptArt – Awareness and Prevention through Art.
The skatepark now provides a shared community space where interested youth can learn from more experienced skateboarders, allowing the Burmese skateboarding community to grow and flourish for decades to come. Children from all different ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds can find common ground through skateboarding in a country rife with ethnic and religious conflict. In a city with 9 major ethnic groups and 4 major religions, the existing skateboarding community of Yangon is already a strong example of how skateboarding has been able to connect youth from all different backgrounds toward a shared passion.
Future plans for skateboarding in Myanmar
A skateboarding teacher has been hired full-time on a temporary basis to run the skateboard equipment loaner program to provide youth with free access to skateboarding equipment and to teach daily skateboarding classes. The impact is already incredible, with over 100 new skateboarders ages 5-12 skateboarding every day. By supporting the skatepark’s loaner program, you will allow us to continually provide the youth of Yangon with free access to skateboarding equipment and classes.
We also plan to begin outreach classes in 2016 to begin sharing skateboarding with communities outside of Yangon. Our initial goal is to begin running weekly skateboarding classes for street kids in the cities of Bago and Pyay. By supporting outreach classes, you will help cover transportation costs for skateboarding teachers to travel with loaner skateboards, safety equipment, skate shoes, and a mobile skate-ramp to Bago and Pyay, allowing us to spread skateboarding’s positive impact even further in Myanmar.