Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Skateistan: Empowering Youth Through Skateboarding and Education
Photography by Lorenzo Vitturi
Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, and over half of the population is under 25 years old. Issues facing children and young people in Cambodia include limited access to quality education and fair employment, crime, violence and discrimination, especially towards girls and young people living with disabilities.
Skateistan first began running programmes in Phnom Penh in 2011 at a previous Skate School in the city. In February 2018, it relocated to a new Skate School in a location better suited to meet the needs of low-income children. This new Skate School, situated in the creative hub of Factory Phnom Penh (a former garment factory), consists of a 500-square metre skatepark, a classroom, library, office and large green space. Programmes run at the Skate School, at Outreach locations and with partner organisations each week, with a focus on providing opportunities for girls and children living with disabilities.
While learning the technical skills involved in skateboarding, children learn important life skills, such as teamwork, making friends and taking turns. They build up their own confidence, but they also help to build the confidence of others by encouraging them to take on new challenges in the skate park.
One of Skateistan’s programmes is Skate and Create, which offers weekly skateboarding instruction alongside an educational arts-based curriculum. In the classroom, Skateistan educators use creative arts to teach a variety of topics, including human rights, cultural studies, nutrition and the environment. Lessons focus on giving young people the tools to express themselves, think critically and develop confidence. In the skatepark, students find a valuable platform for self-expression and personal development. Accessible to all levels of literacy and education, Skate and Create provides a safe space for young people to develop friendships that overcome deep social barriers.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Lorenzo Vitturi (b. 1980, Italy) is a photographer and sculptor based in London. Formerly a cinema set painter, Vitturi has brought this experience into his photographic practice, which revolves around site-specific interventions at the intersection of photography, sculpture and performance. In Vitturi’s process, photography is conceived as a space of transformation, where different disciplines merge together to represent the complexities of changing urban environments.
Vitturi’s latest solo exhibitions have been staged at the Flowers Gallery in London, FOAM Museum in Amsterdam, The Photographers’ Gallery in London, Contact Photography Festival in Toronto, and at the CNA in Luxembourg. Vitturi also participated in group exhibitions at MaXXI in Rome, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, La Triennale in Milan, the Shanghai Art Museum and the K11 Art Space in Shanghai, and at BOZAR in Brussels. Following the presentation of ‘Dalston Anatomy’ in a book, multi-layered installations and performance (SPBH Editions, 2013), Vitturi’s latest photo-book ‘Money Must Be Made’ was published by SPBH Editions in September 2017.