Painting and Skateboarding go beautifully together

Together with the guys from India’s first indoor skatepark “freemotionsk8” we went this week to Jodpuhr, a tiny little village in Rajasthan, a 4 hour drive from Delhi, to work with kids: Painting and skateboarding was on our schedule! I’ve written about this before here.

Akbar Khan was our wonderful host. I visited him before when we did this interview. Akbar is a farmer. He cares very much about education and has managed to educate his children in an extraordinary way – from the village to university back to the village. A completely different approach from what other farmers in the villages do – Akbar Khan is a true role model. Thanks again Akbar for your hospitality – we really enjoyed being with you!

On the roof of Akbar’s father house we skated and painted – it was the only place in the village where we had flat ground.

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Our roof terrace – what a spot!

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Painting on the left side of the roof, skating on the right side.

We started our 2.5 day event at the student’s assembly at the government school. The assembly takes place every morning and all students attend. It’s either in front of the school or in the school yard. The children pray and sing and sometimes the teacher tells a little story – it takes 5 minutes and after that school starts. At the government school in Jodpuhr they say they have about 100 students (up to grade 8), but frankly we never saw more than 25 kids there … and the school itself … just see! Another example in the unpleasant story of education in rural India. The principal and the teacher were very nice and I think the latter were very happy that we’ve liberated them from the kids for 2 days;-)

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Entrance of the school

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Students at assembly

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Steve, Shang and Antonella watching the assembly

On the roof we separated the students in 2 groups: one painting group, one skateboarding group … we started by separating girls and boys as well, but this we gave up soon since they easily mixed together. Playing and working together It wasn’t an issue at all among the kids – we were very happy to see that. Boys dominating girls wasn’t something we experienced, it was a conversation on eye level – rather the girls dominating the boys was the real challenge;-)

We’ve had all age groups.
None of the kids ever painted before! They hardly had pens to draw with.
There are no art lessons at school! It’s no issue at all!
So we organized paper, pencils, water and acryl colors – which wasn’t an easy job;-)
Geeta, a french lady whom I work with in Khajuarho and who came to attend the workshop, went into 2 villages (20 km away) to find at least some colors!
And they had no idea what skateboarding was when we arrived.
But as kids are – they were refreshingly open and just embraced the new.
Curious to do things.
No fears. No barriers for us to break!
And they were equally eager to paint as they were to skate!
And they had the time of their life – as you can easily see on the pictures!
No words to explain needed.

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During our painting sessions we had a competition going. We told them that at the end of the workshop we will select the 5 best paintings. The 5 winners I will take to Delhi – they usually don’t leave the village – they can skateboard in Steve’s skatepark and I show them a bit around. We will auction their paintings and the 3 skateboards they designed and the money we get will be spent for more skateboarding/learning/painting activities. All this will happen in mid March 2014.

It wasn’t an easy job to choose the best pictures … we really had a broad variety, as you can see. And please remember – the kids never had the chance to paint before! So what you see are all debut features!

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Steve choosing his “top 5”

The best ones for us (none of us being professional in this field!) were those which used the space nicely, showed a variety of motifs and were fresh … I know, very superficial and not at all objective and professional … But what to do? 😉

So, here are the “award-winning” pictures and the designed skateboards – what colorful expressions!

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During the entire 2 days on the roof we’ve had a never ending stream of visitors … the entire village wanted to see what we were doing!

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And before we left we decorated the classrooms with the pictures 😉

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And then we said good bye!
I am looking forward to see five of them in March in Delhi!

What was the outcome – besides the beautiful picts and skateboards and a lot of fun?

  • Kids take their chance when they get one! After 2 days some of the kids stood pretty secure on the skateboard and they easily picked up on painting!
  • there are 100+ ways of learning
  • kids always focus and concentrate if they love what they do!
  • it’s not so important how professional you do things, it’s much more important that you start doing things!
  • the “learning” environment matters !!!
  • the lack of plain roads had something surprisingly good: it gave us this beautiful spot on the roof !

Thanks again to Akbar and his family for being wonderful hosts!

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Dinner with Akbar and his family

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