Skating and charities have been playing around together for a while now, so when we got contacted by Julian Dykmans from Blam Studio about a trip in Europe by a charity skatepark in India called Janwaar Castle we thought we’d better check it out.
I got to the chosen skate destination a bit early so went through some of my notes to get the brain going and read a bit more on Janwaar Castle. Basically, it’s a Skatepark in India, in a small average village called Janwaar, population around 1200. The skatepark was founded by Ulrike Reinhard in 2015 to try and create a counter-culture, to the highly sexist and split tribal based culture, through skateboarding. Its worked. Now around 50 to 60 local kids go there at every possible chance and because of this, it has generated a coexisting space where kids of all tribes and genders can bond and enjoy together. Its even boosted school attendance by having a “no school, no skateboarding” rule and created a greater push for girls by having a strict “girls first” rule.
With these facts now in my brain, it was a pretty perfect time for Julian to show.
Julian rocked up with his camera team and we started having the classic ‘nice weather’ chat whilst waiting for the Janwaar kids to show. He was nice enough as well to give some more content explaining that he’d been talking to a couple of skaters who were working within Decathlon and they had been supplying places such as Africa and India with skateboards. That’s when he learnt of Janwaar Castle and was put in contact with them. He went out to India and was blown away by the kids. Kids with no shoes all sharing boards with no idea about the whole context of skating and the culture, just pure rolling. Pure passion.
The kids turned up, all big-eyed and shy unsure what they’ve got them self into. Sujan, Arun and Ramkesh. 16, 14 and 10. With new boards setups, they were eager to start and with the quick introduction over it was time to skate. It’s fascinating to see kids that have had almost no internet or video interaction skate. There is this level of unawareness and pure fun, with no idea whats on trend or whats been done. It’s refreshing to see a take on skateboarding with no care in the world.
Ulrik, the founder of Janwaar, explained that they skate like that because there is no coaching system setup, this keeps it a free place to explore and have fun. Just a bunch of kids learning together, through fun. Ulrik seems like a bit of an odd endorser of skateboard culture and on paper she is. But that what makes it interesting. It’s not a skateboarder thinking kids will enjoy skating, it’s from the view of skateboarding as more than an activity. She’s extremely passionate about the idea that skateboarding is a way to create change because of its strict adherence to cultural rules, and believes that any other sport wouldn’t work. “ It teaches you to fall and rise, take risks and most importantly, maintain balance.” She has a point.
And just like that, with some slams and lands they’re finished skating and ready to move on and it was my time to leave. Now with a little more appreciation for what a simple toy and a place to play can do.
If you want to learn more about Janwaar Castle, go here.
S/O to The Rural Changemakers, and to Decathlon for supporting this project.