Skating is an adrenaline rush; it’s so creative. It’s something that keeps me going; it makes me challenge myself. I think there’s no end to it – there’s no boundaries, it makes me feel liberated, it makes me feel free.
– Abhi, a skatepark regular
I really like to skateboard. When I think of all the crazy young kids around the world attacking obstacles like sets of stairs, and hills, rails, empty swimming pools and ramps it gets me excited. When we first headed to India to work with another faith community, a friend said “Why don’t you do something with skateboarding in India?” I laughed to myself at the seeming absurdity of the idea and dismissed it without considering it… but deep in my heart a dream was planted.
Thirteen years later, there is only one skateboard park in our region. It lies down a crowded, chaotic road where you would never imagine a skate park could be. The skate park’s building is home to a number of other businesses – a mobile phone repair shop, a beauty parlour, a photography studio, a struggling little restaurant, and a chemist. If you go down to the basement, though, you can hear the sounds of fun – wheels rolling, loud slapping sounds, and music – along with cheering and laughter.
Because the skate park is indoors, skateboarding is possible all year round – no matter what the weather is outside. Alongside our skate park is a shop where pots of coffee are made daily and people can hang out and relax. This is where a new skateboard can be purchased or an old one can be tweaked to make it last longer. It is also a place where we talk about life and God, injustice and how to make a difference in our city, country, and world.
Our skate park’s name stands for freedom and movement. Skateboarding is a subculture that demands freedom of movement as an urban, extreme sport. Yet there is another, more common use of the term “Freedom Movement” – the one relating to the fight against slavery and human trafficking. When we first moved to India, the freedom fight against human trafficking was another idea we had never considered. But about the same time I was feeling led to reach out to youth, our close friends and teammates were introducing us to the desperate plight of young girls caught in sex slavery. We, along with others, decided to join them in what became the start of a new ministry for younger girls in this kind of situation. This new ministry, Redlight Greenlight, was a beautiful diversion for me from what I knew would happen someday – the start of a skateboarding business and ministry.
These are the two passions driving our lives and now we have the fun of trying to figure out how the two combine and interact with each other. God is weaving these two passions together and we would love to have you join us in praying as we discover how we can take something we love – skateboarding – and use it to fight something we hate – human trafficking.
We hope to use the fun and attraction of skateboarding to influence young people who come to our skate park, to see a generation rise up and end human trafficking by saying, “No. This is not what we want our country to be like”. We’re also dreaming and planning to do skate demo’s with an anti-trafficking message in schools and other organisations where we can reach larger numbers of youth with the freedom message.