CITY highlights Roc City Skatepark’s role in lives of Rochester’s Afghan refugee

Since first opening through the Built to Play Skatepark Program in November 2020. Rochester’s expansive Roc City Skatepark has become an obstacle-laden oasis for skateboarders along the city’s reinvigorated Genesee River waterfront. New phases of the successful park are currently being planned, but while its vibrancy is obvious to passersby and regular users, another function of the expanse has been developing.   

Thanks to a recent feature published in CITY, the story of Roc City’s role as a bastion for Rochester’s growing Afghan refugee population is now being told. Efforts by Rochester Rolling Resettlement and Skateistan—a nonprofit that introduces Afghan children and other youths who are often excluded from athletics to skateboarding and the creativity and freedom that comes with the sport—have used Roc City as a regulating environment for those still adjusting to their lives in America and have leaned on skateboarding to form a connection to their new homes.

Skateistan started in 2007 and opened its first skate school in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2009. Now, after operating similar programs in locales like Cambodia, Belgium, and Albania, the longtime Skatepark Project partners are operating in Roc City, whose host city welcomed more than 300 Afghan refugees in 2021.

To read the entire CITY feature, click here.

To learn more about the Built to Play Skatepark Program, its grant opportunities and ongoing efforts throughout Western New York and Southeast Michigan, visit The Skatepark Project at

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