How these barefoot skateboarders transformed their village

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How these barefoot skateboarders transformed their village

Dubai - Ulrike Reinhard, the founder of the skating rink named 'Janwaar Castle' explains how and why the idea of the rink came about.

By Staff Report

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Published: Sat 17 Sep 2016, 9:55 PM

In a small village Janwaar in Central India (Madhya Pradesh) two castes dominate the area - Adivasis and Yadavs. Both clash very often over small matters. Untouchability is prevalent, even among kids, where Yadavs feel they are superior and look down upon Adivasis.
But after a skate park came up in the village, a positive changed has swept the area. Kids have started playing together ignoring caste differences, adults have started smiling and the village is no more a silent or sleepy village.
The barefoot skateboarders project was implemented in this village of Bundelkhand due to its precarious situation. The village receives very few hours of electricity, there is a strict separation between the two castes, no sanitation in the village, and in general women have a hard life.
Ulrike Reinhard, the founder of the skating rink named 'Janwaar Castle' explains how and why the idea of the rink came about.
"Skateboarding is very attracting. We realised it when we set up a skate park very close to a school in Afghanistan. And when you go back now, it is such a pleasure to see young girls skateboarding with confidence and performing well at school as well. I was convinced this would work in this village too," she is seen speaking in a video by 101 India.
Asha Adivasi, a young skateboarder in the village, says in the video: " I have always lived under the threat of being harmed by men in our village. I have always been very scared. But since I've started skating here, all my fears seem to have vanished. I feel more confident and happy now. Now when I come to this park, I interact with so many guys and girls and I am not scared anymore."
One of the rules at the skate park is "girls first". Ulrike explains: "This is to simply make boys realise that skateboarding is also for girls. So if a big guy is skateboarding and a small girl comes and says "girls first: then he will have to give it to her. It is a step towards gender equality."
Another unique rule that Ulrike has introduced at the skate park is "no school, no skateboarding". So if a kid doesn't go to school, he or she will not be allowed to skate at the park. "We did this in close collaboration with government schools and this rule really swept the kids to school. More and more children have started going to school regularly now."
Skateboarding enthusiast at the village Arun Adivasi said: "I would hardly go to school previously but from the time I started going to the skate park, I've started going to school regularly and have even started performing well at school. For getting good score at school, I was even rewarded at the skate park with Kindle, a hand-held electronic device for reading books. Now I want to just skate and study both."
"The skate park has induced a positive energy in this little village through the kids and this is our greatest achievement," Ulrike is seen saying in the video.

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