Ghana's Freedom Skateboard Park In Collaboration with Virgil Abloh Is Gaining Worldwide Attention
BY NICO CHEVALIER AND SOPHIA REBOLLEDO
After years of hard work, Ghana is finally building a fully functional skate park in the middle of Accra. Skateboarding has taken Ghana by the storm, becoming a cultural phenomenon in which the bustling capital has not had a dedicated spot for the community to coalesce. Now, with the collaboration of Surf Ghana and Skate Nation, both collectives that use the practice of extreme sports as a driver for diversity in education, social inclusion, and empowerment of the youth, Accra could have a state-of-the-art ramp by July 2021. The skate park is planned to be secured in the Dzorwulu district with a finished blueprint and is set to be called Freedom Skate Park.
“I know what skating can do for the youth,” says Sandy Alibo, Surf Ghana’s founder. “It makes kids forget their problems. No drugs, no violence. Just one goal: Learn the tricks; do the tricks. It’s a family.”
Alibo, founder and director of Surf Ghana, has been dreaming of a ramp for Accra since at least 2016 but wanted a cutting edge skate park that would encourage people to visit from all over the world. Alibo also is working to found a Skateboarding Club to empower women in Ghana.
At Freedom Skate Park, they will offer skating lessons to employ local kids and teach new skaters, a skateboarding equipment store, and a cafe with Wi-Fi, all sustainably made with local and recycled materials. The Freedom Skate Park will offer a free and public green space right in the middle of the city of Accra, with assistance from local architects Limbo Accra and Wonders Around the World, an international organization whose mission is to make skateboarding accessible worldwide, and local architects Limbo Accra. Even Vans, the holy grail of skate shoes, has teamed up with this mission by supporting a skate teaching program. “We deserve to create a quality ramp—if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,” says Alibo.
The level of ambition Alibo and her team want to achieve takes much planning resources, and so this week today marks the very first week of a month-long fundraising campaign. As the Accra skatepark’s mission has been heard worldwide, they have also gained prominent allies in the effort: the Pan-African clothing brand Daily Paper and none other than Virgil Abloh, Off-White founder and artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s. After hearing about Skate Nation, Abloh wasted no time in reaching out to help and has agreed to craft the skate ramp's brand identity in collaboration with Limbo Accra and his design studio Alaska Alaska. “Virgil and Daily Paper came and listened—they didn’t just do whatever they wanted; they talked to us and supported our ideas,” says Alibo. “This project has a nice flavor—it has the diaspora; it has the local. We are working together, all of us, for Africa. We have a common goal.”
The Freedom Skate Park will provide both economic and social opportunities for Ghanaian youth. The skate park will create a safe space to practice skateboarding and empower Ghana's youth by promoting good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, and decent work and economic growth. Surf Ghana’s mission claims that “At the skatepark, children will find a fun, safe community where they can play and learn, free from discrimination and violence. Within a diverse peer group, they will come to understand themselves as equal with others, while learning new skills and building friendships.”
Alibo’s dreams for the future of Ghanaian skating do not stop with the Freedom Skate Park building. Next up, she wants a Ghanaian national team to spark continental competition and eventually participate in the summer Olympics skateboarding category. “Sometimes, you need to be the first. You struggle, but then you see a movement. And I’m just happy to be part of the movement.”
To learn more about the cause for change, check out: http://surfghana.org/a-skatepark-for-accra.html.