"When you stand on a skateboard, you want to do something with it,"
More than three million young people supported in 35 countries with more than 150 projects - that is the positive result of the work done by Laureus Sport for Good. The worldwide social projects encourage children and adolescents to quit the street and become involved in one of many sporting activities such as football, kickboxing or, in this case, skateboarding and surfing.
"When you stand on a skateboard, you want to do something with it," says an enthusiastic Charl Jensel, project manager for the Laureus Indigo Youth Movement in South Africa. "You see a fantastic trick and want to try it for yourself. Hey, that gives you something to aim for. You become addicted to it, and there is no way back to your previous life." Charl Jensel knows what it means to mix with the wrong people out on the streets. Nonetheless he has gone his own way. He is now 28, and has left those days behind him. He devotes all his energy to the Indigo Youth Movement project. He wanted to give his "community" - that is what village associations in South Africa call themselves - the tools to devote themselves to a project with discipline and enjoyment, and in this way try above all to prevent young people from having contact with criminals. Through skating, young kids start to see new perspectives and goals for which it is worth working hard.
Project "Indigo Youth Movement"
The Skate Camp in the center of Isithumba, a Zulu village in the Valley of a Thousand Hills near Durban, attracts international visitors. And that was precisely the aim when Dallas Oberholzer founded the Camp in 2001. He wanted to attract the younger village inhabitants to skateboarding, and at the same time create a meeting place for locals and visitors. 15 years later we can say: mission accomplished. Today the common language in the immediate surroundings of the Zulu community is English. Also in the small teashop, which now attracts numerous visitors and generates its own profit. Soon there will be jobs for further village inhabitants there. The language barriers originally perceived by the kids have also disappeared, and they are no longer shy. They believe in themselves, and are living their dream.
Skateboarding above all means freedom – not thinking about anything, going with the flow and enjoying the moment. Waiting for what is to come. And plenty of good things can indeed come - as in the case of Thalente Bileya. The first name "Thalente" is Zulu for "The talented or gifted one". At the age of nine Thalente was homeless, wanted to escape difficult family circumstances with no future prospects and was offered errands in the street that were not exactly legal. But Thalente decided otherwise. He concentrated solely on his skateboard, and forgot the bad experiences on the streets of Durban. He spent many hours in the "Pipe", the skateboard track. That has paid off. Today he is a member of a professional skating team and lives in Los Angeles. He has made it, and he wants other kids to make it too. That is why he coaches young skaters and occasionally works together with Charl Jensel in the Indigo Youth Movement project.
Project "Waves for Change"
The "Waves for Change" project has similar aims. As the name implies, Waves for Change is all about surfing. Joining a sporting community enables children and adolescents to establish new contacts. Often they are even a replacement for a family. The project also seeks to educate kids about the dangers of HIV and Aids. Another aim is to motivate the adolescents to have HIV checks. After the Waves for Change project presentation in the local schools, the young people can register and have the test performed in the local HIV clinics. The course has ten units and gives both theoretical knowledge about surfboards and preventive knowledge related to HIV. And at the end of a long learning day, it's off to ride the waves. The experience of feeling free. Gradually opening a door to a new life.