Afghan Kids Take to the Rails as Skateboarding Takes Off

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When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, skateboarding was forbidden. But today more and more kids there are all about the pastime that has them railsliding, goofy-footing and getting air.

Skateistan, a nonprofit, encourages children to skateboard as part of their studies and believes that the sport can be a means of empowerment. That includes girls and women, who make up 40 percent of the students in the program, ranging in age from 5 to 25.

It’s a far cry from the Taliban — and a welcome wave of carefree fun for boys and girls whose everyday life is still one of grinding poverty amid violence. With Skateistan, the grind is done with a skateboard’s deck, wheels and trucks as they kickflip (spin), carve (skate in a long gliding arc) and fakie (skate backwards).

— Nikolai Miller and Jack Rees