Kirsten aims to inspire the youth through skating

Kirsten Poking

If there’s anything that we all need to learn to master, it’s balance, in every aspect of our lives.

Living by the Yin and yang balance, 24-year-old Kirsten Poking is instilling that value in the young minds of little girls in the Bo-Kaap.

Drawing inspiration from non-profit organisation Indigo Youth Movement, which aims to create safe spaces, access to mentors and to skateboarding programmes to promote the well-being of the youth, Ms Poking ran a winter holiday skateboard programme for the girls of Bo-Kaap (“Plan to keep youth off the street”, Atlantic Sun, June 28).

She said she felt inspired and motivated to get something started in her community immediately, but targeted girls first to bridge the gap of under-representation of women in the skateboarding industry.

The three-week-long holiday programme had the support of the Social Development Club and the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA). At the end of the programme, she had a total of 28 names and at least 25 girls who would show up come rain or shine. Of the 28 girls, 25 girls could successfully stand up on a board and skate on their own.

Ms Poking said she wanted to teach young girls life skills such as self-confidence and self-motivation and the ability to develop healthy relationships with their family and friends. “With the programme, I wanted to teach them how to be balanced on a skateboard and in their everyday lives.

“I also wanted to teach them how to be respectful of people from various backgrounds and how to be active and responsible citizens in their community as a skateboarder, by knowing their rights as children, females and skateboarders,” she said.

Ms Poking added that she hoped that skateboarding would teach the girls that they should measure their achievements according to their own successes and limitations and not compare themselves to others.

Hailing from a family of activists, Ms Poking said she was introduced to community activism by family members and saw first-hand what could be accomplished when a community comes together and brings to task those that were elected into positions of leadership.

She said she’s always been passionate about her community but it’s only now that she has learnt to act on her passion.

One of the people who inspire Ms Poking is her mother, Jacqueline Poking who is a secretary of the BKCRA. She said her mother has consistently shown her how to give with an open heart and that she’s also learnt patience and the importance of remaining calm in the face of an unwanted answer.

Ms Poking said she was privileged to hear stories from her family and their friends of the actions they had taken against apartheid. “The Fees Must Fall campaign where students faced possibly not graduating or completing that year of study, reminded me of how my mom sacrificed her matric year in 1985 when there was a call to boycott the matric exams in support of the general unrest in the country at the time,” said Ms Poking.

She said she longed to see the country reach its full potential and pave a path that holds true to its rich and diverse history and culture and honours the hard-won freedom so many have sacrificed for.

“I hope my community and the CBD that neighbours it, and the world at large, will appreciate and look after the rich and living heritage contained not just in the streets and houses of Bo-Kaap but in the people who make those houses a home and those streets as a road that always leads you somewhere warm and inviting, usually with a warm embrace and a plate of koeksisters to welcome you,” said Ms Poking.