Youth Leadership

An important part of Skateistan’s mission is to provide leadership opportunities.

Some of the deepest individual impacts of Skateistan’s activities are seen in the youth that have become volunteers or paid staff with the organization, and who now play a key role in developing programming for their peers.

All of Skateistan Cambodia’s skateboarding and classroom instructors are former students.

As part of our youth leadership programs in Afghanistan and Cambodia, over 40 girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 21 have volunteered regularly with Skateistan as Youth Leaders, assisting in skate sessions or class lessons, helping to plan and manage events, and taking part in special sports, arts, and multimedia workshops.

The result of Skateistan’s mutual learning and regular training for volunteers and staff has been a true sense of ownership over the project, for both local staff and students. This youth leadership initiative has also created positive role models for the hundreds of students who attend every week.


On the weekend of the 21st, Skateistan Cambodia’s fulltime skate instructors Tin, Pheakna, and Nup, and 8 selected students from Cambodian Women’s Development Agency (CWDA) along with our open sessions had the opportunity to participate in the Peace Corps’ 3rd annual Create Cambodia Arts Festival in Takhmao, Kandal province. Our selected students were coming along to participate as assistant instructors to our staff.

Create Cambodia is an event that joins together Cambodian students, educators and professional artists with Peace Corps Volunteers to celebrate and encourage the creative capacities of Cambodian youth.Their overall goal is youth development/empowerment through the arts and to provide a safe place for students to perform and express themselves regardless of their skill levels.

Students throughout Cambodia, along with Cambodian teachers and Peace Corps volunteers, form art clubs specializing in (but not limited to) painting, dancing, acting, or singing.

Once the student group has honed their skills and debuted in their communities they then travel to the capitol city to take part in a 2-day arts festival designed to highlight their achievements and expose them to the greater world of Cambodian art. For many students this will be their first trip away from the provinces!

Getting ready!
Getting ready for the skate workshop

We joined for their Saturday activities where we set up a workshop to introduce skateboarding to all 170 festival attendees. Our staff gave a short demo of 10 minutes where they would push around and ollie over skateboards before dividing up all the attendees into 4 groups of about 40 new students. Over the span of 2 hours, our staff and assistants taught the basics to one group at a time while the others participated in other workshop and show rehearsals.

The students and volunteers were all super impressed with the exhibition and loved learning a new skill. One of my students said he rushed through his rehearsal time with his group so that he could get more skateboarding time in.

- Lauren Markofsky, Peace Corps Volunteer

After a chaotic, but exciting 2 hours sharing 10 skateboards between 40-something students at a time, the Skateistan staff and volunteers got to wind down and have lunch provided by the festival before heading back to Phnom Penh to rest up.

CWDA student/volunteer skate assistant teaching the basics to the festival attendees
Skateistan Cambodia student/volunteer assistant instructors showing the basics to the festival attendees

The adrenaline from the workshop was still high during the drive home, especially among our skate assistants who got a taste of being youth leaders for the first time.

I felt proud that they called me teacher.

- Sonita, 10, assistant instructor​ for the day from CWDA


It was so cool. Even though I was much younger than everyone who was there, they still listened to me when I taught them how to skateboard.

- Srey Srorn, 8, assistant instructor for the day from CWDA

When asked if they want to come back next year, the unanimous response was yes.

They continued discussing the students they got to teach and what each of them learned from the experience before passing out to sleep shortly after departing Takhmao.

CWDA student/volunteer skate assistant gearing up
Skateistan Cambodia student/volunteer assistant instructor gearing up

CWDA student/volunteer skate assistant teaching the basics to the festival attendees
Skateistan Cambodia student/volunteer assistant instructor showing the basics to the festival attendees

Fulltime skate instructor and youth leader Pheakna doing his thing
Fulltime skate instructor and youth leader Pheakna doing what he does best

Tin doing what she does best
Tin doing what she does best

Tin doing what she does best

This was the first time skateboarding for many of the attendees.
This was the first time skateboarding for many of the attendees.


Big thanks to Stacy Biggs and Lauren Markofsky for inviting Skateistan Cambodia, Evan Cobb for the pictures, all Peace Corps Volunteers and students who were present that day to spread the shred.

Why Sport Matters for Girls

Tin shows some new students how to push for the first time.

In our most recent newsletter, we featured an interview with Skateistan Cambodia staff member Kov Chansangva (Tin). Tin has been working with Skateistan Cambodia for ten months, and has quickly become an invaluable member of the Skateistan team. Her passion for skateboarding, dance, music, and teaching combined with her can-do attitude and energy make her a fantastic female role model for all the students at Skateistan Cambodia. To our knowledge, Tin was the first Cambodian woman ever to land a kickflip.

While there are numerous barriers to female participation in sport around the world, Tin represents a growing population of female athletes in Cambodia.

Ideal Phnom Penh Photo Project

Students have been working hard on a new project at Skateistan Cambodia: Ideal Phnom Penh.

Thanks to an exceptional donor, Skateistan Cambodia received a whole bunch of new media equipment, including a number of digital point and shoot cameras for student use, a new digital SLR camera and a media computer. We immediately put the equipment to good use.

Professional photographers Samual James and Rick Valenzuela volunteered to spend the afternoon doing a photography workshop with all staff, teaching them the basics of light and composition. Everyone had a blast exploring the neighbourhood and learning how to maximize the quality of their photos.

Introducing Nop - Skateistan Security Guard

 Nop, instructor in training, pulls a big ollie off the wedge.

We’d like to officially introduce you to Nop, our security guard, instructor in training, and all around incredible addition to the team at Skateistan Cambodia. Nop is 20 years old and started with Skateistan a few months ago when we first opened the doors to the new park and facility. Having never stood on a board before, he took full advantage of his access to the skatepark and quickly taught himself how to skate. Now he’s assisting with teaching classes, and on any given day Nop might be found helping the kids in the art class, registering new students, and pushing himself  and the students in the park. Always all-smiles, and quick to pick up new tricks, he motivates the rest of us with our skating too. We caught up with him this week to ask a few questions about himself and life working at Skateistan.  (Interviewed in Khmer and translated into English). 

Growing Stronger!

We have a new addition to our Skateistan family!  

Announcing the multi-talented Kov Chan Sangva, a native Khmer, better known as “Tin.”  She studies at Doeum Thkou High School in Phnom Penh and has a strong background in break-dancing, rap, and most recently – skateboarding.  

She has volunteered at Tiny Toones, a local break dancing NGO, in which we offer weekly instruction, for the past three years acting as an outreach instructor.  She has also informed youth on important health and safety topics such as hygiene, drug addiction and HIV/AIDS awareness.  In fact, Tin is a student of ours, and is currently in the process of being trained to teach skateboarding... 

...and she’s already a natural!