I don’t know if it’s the athlete in me, but using sports to empower women is on my list of awesome, so when I read about Skateistan, I had to tell you all about it.

Skateistan is a NGO for children in Afghanistan and Cambodia that connects youth with education through skateboarding. In Afghanistan, girls and women are not allowed to ride bikes, but they are allowed to skateboard so nearly 40% of their students are girls. It’s about more than just skateboarding — the team at Skateistan give back-to-school lessons for refugees, arts-based education, and leadership opportunities for the students in the program. Just as importantly, girls in the project are given the chance to build confidence and self-esteem by learning new skills and physical expression.

Next year is going to be a trying one for Afghanistan: the International Security Assistance Force is withdrawing from the country and the government has to prove that they can hold free and fair elections without assistance in the spring elections. Programs like this one are so important to the community and the development of engaged citizens, so let’s help them kickflip into 2014 — their goal is to raise $35,000 this year with their Keep Skateistan Rolling fundraiser — check it out!

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