Skateboarders take over the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan, under vigilant security. Australian Oliver Percovich has been teaching local kids to skate since 2007, and now his nonprofit Skateistan club is building an indoor skateboard park in the city.
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Skateboarding in Afghanistan

Skateboarders take over the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan, under vigilant security. Australian Oliver Percovich has been teaching local kids to skate since 2007, and now his nonprofit Skateistan club is building an indoor skateboard park in the city.  (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Neighborhood kids rush the Skateistan van to grab a skateboard for an afternoon session. Boys and girls take turns using the limited number of skateboards and skate for about 2 hours a day, six days a week. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Milad Kofi, 12, skates off the edge of an empty, Russian-era fountain that serves as a makeshift skating ground for neighborhood kids. There are about 90 children in the program. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Sharna Nolan, who helped Percovich write the funding proposals for Skateistan, leads a young Afghan girl around the concrete fountain. Skateistan has received donations from the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany and Norway. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Mina, 9, learns how to skate with members of Skateistan. The program is for girls up to age 12 and boys up to age 17. Some conservative Afghans object to girls’ participation, but Percovich says no one’s ordered him to stop. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Mir Wais Mohsen Kardan, 21, helps propel Fatana, 11, around the fountain. Volunteers and children who once begged for change help Percovich teach skating. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Mir Wais Ahmad, 17, one of the program’s top skaters, says he earns about $10 a day as an instructor and all-around errand boy. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Fazila Shrindul, 10, skates nearly every day. Percovich says he doesn’t want to impose Western styles or techniques on the children. “We’re just here to plant seeds,” he says. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Pro skater Cairo Foster, from Oakland, is one of four international professionals flown in last month to work with the children. “I think it’s a really good way to show them there’s hope here,” he said. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Percovich, the program’s founder, talks with his students in the empty fountain. “Maybe we can play some small part in keeping these kids from becoming insurgents later on,” he said. Skateistan’s logo is a skateboard crushing an assault rifle. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
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