f you find yourself in Bundelkhand’s Janwaar village on a bright morning, you will witness a sight to behold — girls and boys whizzing around on skateboards, practicing ‘Flips’ and ‘Nosegrinds’.
Located along the fringes of the Panna National Tiger Reserve, the Janwaar Skating Park is a not-for-profit project that teaches village children skateboarding free of cost.
Children start training here as young as the age of 5, practicing twice every day. “I started with the idea to empower the kids, help them learn a new skill, and encourage them to study — girls, as much as boys,” says Ulrike Reinhard, the German activist who built the park.
The park is a place for unfettered fun, but has two strict ground rules. Rule number one: girls first. And rule number two: no school, no skateboarding.
In this Madhya Pradesh village, many children remain out of school, especially girls.
The number of girls attending school has gone up in recent times. At the park, too, girls get preference. The kids share 15 boards, but like good young gentlemen, the boys must let the girls go first.
The park bridges caste disparities by bringing together the village’s Adivasi and upper caste Yadav and Kushwaha children to play together.
The kids are so attached to their skateboards that they rarely let go of them. To them, it’s the ultimate definition of fun.