The first Skate School has opened in Johannesburg, targeting underprivileged youth for education programmes. To ensure an optimal learning environment, Saint-Gobain Gyproc has donated top-quality walls and ceilings.

An international non-governmental organisation that uses skateboarding as a unique empowerment tool, Skateistan, has opened its first Skate School on the continent in the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, combining skateboarding with education.

“Skateistan is not just about skating. It’s about giving people life skills and hope for their future,” says Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarder and global Skateistan ambassador.

Starting out as a grassroots sport for development project on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2007, where girls are allowed to ride skateboards but not bicycles, the Skateistan non-profit targets vulnerable youth between the ages of five and 17 from a range of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. The campaign uses skateboarding as a hook to engage children in underprivileged areas and empower them through education programmes.

Innovative building
The Johannesburg Skate School consists of a building constructed using reclaimed shipping containers as classrooms and study areas, a world-class 500m² skate park, an outdoor educational space and office space for the non-government organisation (NGO) to operate from.

Interior building solutions group, Saint-Gobain Gyproc, has sponsored top-quality walls and ceilings for the classrooms and offices.

Apart from attributes related to efficiency and sustainability, Saint-Gobain believes that its innovative building materials can create an environment that is safer, more comfortable, healthier and generally more attractive than conventional building materials. Subsequently, comfortable learning spaces contribute to better learning environments, whereby learners and teachers can perform optimally.

Saint-Gobain has provided materials, systems and solutions to affect the following:
•    Thermal comfort: Comfortable indoor environment, warm in winter and cool in summer.
•    Acoustic comfort: Noise reduction and improved acoustics.
•    Visual comfort: Good lighting and reduced glare to improve visibility and ambience.
•    Health: Materials that improve air quality, which means less illness and improved well-being.

Through this project, Saint-Gobain aims to demonstrate to other schools and educational facilities the immense difference that can be made by using superior building materials in conjunction with builders, designers and architects, and how this combination can create better functioning, as well as more comfortable and more productive environments that allow learners and teachers to achieve their full potential.

Enabling change
This is Skateistan’s fourth international project, with two Skate Schools already in Afghanistan and one in Cambodia.

Skateistan South Africa has been made possible through a partnership with the City of Johannesburg and funding from the Danish Embassy in Pretoria, the Comic Relief Foundation, the Tony Hawk Foundation and The Sk8room. Maboneng’s urban regeneration company, Propertuity, has provided the land for the Skate School via a 20-year rent-free lease. Big Box Containers, a company that customises shipping containers and converts them for various uses, is supplying the boxes, as well as various other donors involved, including Saint-Gobain.

Follow the construction process, documented by Saint-Gobain, at www.helpingskateistan.co.za.
For more information about Skateistan, go to skateistan.org.

Saint-Gobain Gyproc
Tel: 011 345 5300
Website: www.gyproc.co.za


CAPTION: Reclaimed shipping containers were used to construct classrooms for the first Skateistan South Africa Skate School in Johannesburg. Saint-Gobain Gyproc has sponsored top-quality walls and ceilings for improved thermal comfort and acoustics.