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Jessica Fulford-Dobson
Jessica Fulford-Dobson

Meet the Skate Girls of Kabul

Jessica Fulford-Dobson
Jessica Fulford-Dobson

When I first stumbled into Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s photos of these badass girls skating in Afghanistan I was completely enamored. Just the feel of it—young girls flying down ramps in traditional garb and proudly holding their decks! But the fact that the skateboards are actually giving girls confidence and getting them back into school is incredible. Here’s the story:

When Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich first visited Afghanistan in 2007, he knew he had to do something.  Wheeling through the streets of Kabul, he was struck by the number of kids working the roads, begging for money. As he saw it, the youth of Afghanistan had clearly been hit hard by the country’s 30 years of conflict. He was also stunned by how restricted the young girls were—they couldn’t play sports or ride bikes due to their prohibitive clothing.

But skateboarding, he realized, could provide a solution. So he and his friend took their three boards and started letting the kids play, teaching them to carve sidewalks and do kickflips. That’s how he started Skateistan, a non-profit that uses skateboarding as a hook for education and empowerment. 

Courtesy Jessica Fulford-Dobson

It’s a wonderful program—Skateistan provides a safe space for low-income and displaced youth to play. 50% of the students are streetworkers, 40% are female. Kids who show interest are also shepherded into accelerated school programs to get them back into public schools. But the effort doesn’t stop there: Skateistan also monitors these kids for a few years to ensure that they don’t slip. 

The most heart-warming example I found was from Fulford-Dobson’s first photo. She spotted this beautiful 7-year old determined to master the board gripped in her “tiny hennaed hands.”

Courtesy Jessica Fulford-Dobson

But that ferocity resonated in other ways as well. One year after attending Skateistan’s Back to School program, she had not only advanced three grades—enough to enter public school with her peers—but was still coming back to ride in her free time. The story makes me so happy. Since Skateistan launched, skateboarding has become the #1 sport in Afghanistan with female youth. And just reading the quotes from other girls at the facility, like this one, should warm your heart:   

 “When I’m up there, I feel free, like I’m flying. I like that feeling a lot.” – Hanifa, 14, Afghan Skater 

Courtesy Jessica Fulford-Dobson

If you’re in London, be sure to check out Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s incredible exhibit Skate Girls of Kabul at the Saatchi Gallery, April 15-28. Or do what I'm doing and pre-order her book here.

And for more information on Skateistan, which now operates in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa, be sure to click here.

Courtesy Jessica Fulford-Dobson

Courtesy Jessica Fulford-Dobson

Courtesy Jessica Fulford-Dobson

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8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists
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Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]

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China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall
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iStock

The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

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