How a Skate Park Is Expanding Ghanaian Tourism

courtesy of Fodor’s Travel Guides

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The construction of Ghana’s first skate park marks a watershed moment for the continent’s creative economy and long-term economic viability. As a result, skateboarding and other action sports get a new look. Founder of Skate Nation and Surf Ghana, Sandy Alibo has big plans to make Ghana and West Africa a major recreational and creative hub.

Freedom Skate Park will be opened on December 15th, 2021 by the Ghanaian creative community, volunteers, and skateboard enthusiasts as well as Accra locals. After leaving France in 2016, Alibo moved to Ghana with the goal of becoming a doctor.

It wasn’t until I met surfers on the beach when I first arrived in Ghana that I learned there were no platforms to help the African surfing scene.

Sandy Alibo Kofi Dotse Kofi Dotse of Fodor’s Sandy Alibo

The surfing community in Ghana has formed an NGO whose primary goal is to provide surfers in the country with the necessary equipment. More than 230 pieces of sports equipment have been collected and donated by Surf Ghana and Alibo, and more than 200 children have been taught how to surf and skate. Global brands like Virgil Abloh, Daily Paper, and Vans have helped the skateboarding community find a place to call home.

The online Surf Ghana community has grown over time, and a crowdfunding campaign was launched in 2020 to begin the skate park project. Thousands of individuals and organizations around the world have contributed generously to Surf Ghana’s mission because they believed in the organization’s vision. East Legon, Accra’s buzzing suburb, is home to Freedom Skate Park, which is increasingly attracting the attention of visitors from around the world.

Following Ghana’s skateboarding success at the most recent Olympic Games in Tokyo, these skaters are even more driven to succeed.

The 5,382-foot-long Freedom Skate Park features a distinctive Adinkra symbol that represents the Akan word “Fawohodie,” which means freedom and emancipation in the Akan language. Skateboarders in Ghana now have a place to call home thanks to the efforts of volunteers from across Africa and Europe. A bold yellow and black scheme covers the park, displaying the names of all those who helped make it possible. As a tribute to Virgil Abloh and the legacy he left for those who aspired to follow in his footsteps, “Virgil Was Here” is etched into the wall.

According to Alibo, it’s difficult to get people on board when you’re trying to implement new ideas in a new country. Alibo, a non-Ghanaian woman, has found it difficult to lead a project team with 90% men and to find a seat, but she has also seen the growth of the movement.

As a result, she says, “most of the skateboarders I encountered in the early phases were school dropouts but today have acquired employable skills as a result of the expansion of this park.”

The Freedom Skate Park is not only a place for action sports, but it also serves as a foundation for social change, civic engagement, and small business development. Creative expression, mental health, and self-confidence in the African youth are all facilitated by this program. As a result, the skate park has become a hot topic amongst the international press, investors, and residents of other countries. Surf Ghana is taking advantage of the opportunity to bring skateboarders back to Ghana and together, as Ghana continues to receive annual PR on traveling, partying, and having a good time. As a result of the park’s publicity, Nigeria has started building its first skate park, which is an exciting development for the continent.

The following information is provided by Kofi Dotse: Provided by Fodor’s

Surf Ghana and Alibo provide a shared outlet for young people. Skaters of all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds can be found at the park on the weekends and in the afternoons, learning and competing together. Following Ghana’s skateboarding success at the most recent Olympic Games in Tokyo, these skaters are even more driven to succeed.

Gender equality is being promoted through the building of the park itself, says Alibo as she explains how important it is for skaters of all genders to compete locally and internationally.

This is not the end for Alibo and her team in the near future. In the beginning, they’re developing a sports and recreation industry, not just skating. As part of their skate tours, Alibo and her team travel to rural areas to find new skaters, train them, and spread the skating community outside of Accra. By bringing together skateboarders and first-time visitors in the creative and arts industries, the park itself promotes sustainable and responsible tourism for the region’s residents and diaspora. The youth of today have found their arch to freedom in the park, which is now a breeding ground for the next generation of filmmakers, designers, and creatives.

Fodor’s Kofi Dotse provides this information.

To see the Freedom Skate Park is to see what African youth have been clamoring for for years. In the future, the skate park in Ghana will be able to include a Wi-Fi Café, an expert training and mentoring center, and a skate shop, thanks to additional funding and support. Sandy and her team aren’t going to stop until they get some official recognition for the park. Skateboarding in Ghana and Africa has a bright future because Alibo and her team are breaking the odds to foster community, creativity, and the will to succeed in a male-dominated industry.