Will Ascott and Ruby Mateja met while they were volunteering at SkatePal, a charity that teaches children how to skateboard in the West Bank. A few months later they randomly met Josie Naughton, the founder of another charity organization, Help Refugees.
Now, after planning everything and straightening out all the details, the Free Movement Skateboarding program is in full effect.
Roughly 11 million people report that they enjoy skateboarding on a regular basis, but many children around the globe don’t have that luxury. That’s why Will, Ruby, and Josie were trying to accomplish with Free Movement Skateboarding — and they are doing just that.
“We teach at a basketball court five minutes up from our flat and there are people from everywhere,” Ruby said, “North Africa, Syria, Afghanistan, lots of Greek kids are skating now and boys and girls of different ages. It’s amazing.”
According to The Telegraph, the refugee crisis in Athens has left children with little-to-no hope, but this new charity is working to change that.
“We are trying to create this positive skate park culture, so that everyone’s on the same level and everyone cheers for everyone when they learn something new,” added Will. For both refugee children and everyone else, it “normalizes failure because you relentlessly try the same ting over and over again.”
The group not only focuses on helping refugees feel hopeful about the future through skating, but shines a light how skateboarding can have a positive impact on young girls around the world.
“Empowering girls through being gnarly is engrained in everything we do,” added Will. “We saw for ourselves the role skateboarding can play for girls in conservative Muslim communities.”
In Greece, the refugee crisis has been a pressing concern over the last few years. In fact, as of June 2015, 124,000 migrants had arrived in Greece, a significant 750% increase from 2014.
Athens is currently home to the largest population of Greece refugees. Skateism repots that there are currently 25,000 refugees living in Athens and Free Movement Skateboarding will be holding a cycle tour in February to spread awareness and encourage donations.