Negative preconceptions were the main thing that materialised when I first told friends and family that I had decided to volunteer with SkatePal over the summer of 2017. Looking back at it, visions of violence, hostility and isolation are easy to come by when the only time the occupied territories get a mention is because of the ongoing occupation and conflict with Israel. However, moving the focus from such views to the postitives of the real lives of Palestinians is what is so powerful about SkatePal and why it has become such a success.
SkatePal’s momentum has increased massively since I was first exposed to it at a screening of the documentary ‘Epicly Palestine’d’ by the charity’s co-owners Theo Krish and Charlie Davis. As intended, the community that surrounds the skate scene has grown with it. However, I soon came to realise that this has not been limited to Asira Ash-Shamaliya, the town in which the skatepark I volunteered at was built. It isn’t even constrained by the notoriously difficult to cross borders, walls and checkpoints that contain the occupied territories. The community that the charity has created spreads across the world. In just the month I spent there, volunteers from the west cost of the USA, Germany and the Czech Republic had made the pilgrimage to Asira, just outside of the vibrant city of Nablus, to become of the SkatePal Family.
This autumn SkatePal put the finishing touches on their third skatepark. This time in conjunction with SkateQilya, the new park in Jayous is the next step for skateboarding in Palestine. Head over to the website for more info.
The photos and Super 8 videos that follow are a collaboration between myself and photographer Julian Mährlein from our separate trips this year to Asira. We hope that they can break through other preconceptions and help continue the inspiring work by the SkatePal community for children in a situation where opportunities are severely limited.