These are the pillars of Janwaar Castle – the greatest skatepark you’ve never heard of. In the small village of Janwaar, India, the skateboard is more than four wheels and a board. Here it is a vehicle for social change, gender equality, and education.
Meet the Changemakers
What others have to say
"I'm feeling very good that my daughter is going to England. I'm feeling so happy, so very very happy. Also because she will go on and learn to do good work, and also progress forwards. She is making everyone happy and proud. Boosting the confidence of the other kids, the village and herself. This makes me very happy." Asha was the first in Janwaar to hold a passport and to go abroad!
Ulrike Reinhard is like the Euler of education, a wanderer, explorer and connector. I've been following her for many years. She is currently developing a school in India called Janwaar Castle based on skateboarding and community participation. India, as has often been observed, has a problem with male dominance, and one day about two weeks ago a young man simply reached out and started touching her "because I am a man." So she took him to the police. End of story, right? No. Reinhard gave the boy an option - instead of being changed, he could help develop a learning program "how to treat women right." There was an intense meeting with the family. Eventually they were won over. The workshop is still in planning, but she has been inundated by well-wishers from across India. Teaching through example is always powerful, and I've learned a lot here.
Just the idea of a skatepark in the middle of an Indian village was intriguing – an element so absurdly foreign disrupting the otherwise mundane village life. Even before reaching Janwaar however, it was evident that the village had become quite well-known for having the skatepark, and of course – for the many foreigners who come to visit. The next three days turned out to be a stunning experience – I still can’t wait for the next competition to begin so we can relive those incredible visuals again. An air of positivity surrounded the competition. There were no losers – only champions. It was surely unlike anything we encounter every day, and a welcome break at that. This experience in itself had gotten me attached to the place and I was sure I’d go back again – at least once. This was almost a year ago. Over the last 10 months, I’ve visited Janwaar many times, and have been continuously affiliated with the team. While the competition wooed me, the concept kept me going. It is – in an almost detached, experimental manner – fascinating to observe the differences that such a setup could make to the lives of previously unassuming villagers. However, what’s most fascinating for me – and satisfying in a way – is that the entire concept is built on a premise of disobedience.
“Kittu’s Terrible Horrible No Good Very Mad Day” is a book I’ve written it in 2017. I was deeply inspired by Janwaar Castle. I first heard about it in September 2016 and, well, it was love at first sight! I was completely taken in by this non-descript village and the smiles I saw on the faces of these children who were skateboarding barefoot. I’ve learnt about it on Facebook. Since I am a journalist, it’s my natural desire to do research – even if it doesn’t turn into a story right away. So, I did my research on Janwaar Castle, and the more I read, the more I was amazed. At the same time Duckbill Books announced their Children First contest. I think it was then when I started to dream about Janwaar Castle and Kittu, a 10-year old boy born with one leg, which would become the character of my new book. My vision became clearer and clearer. I wanted that the story of this young boy, who is disabled and challenged to do the undoable, to be set in Janwaar. This wass what my heart and soul were telling me. And when I got a chance to interact with Ulrike Reinhard, the founder of Janwaar Castle it made me feel even stronger about the place and I was able to write with greater conviction. I was truly inspired by her work!
Since the building of the skatepark, things have changed because people from outside keep coming in. Since the homestay it’s even better because now the people actually come over to my place and stay with us instead of just visiting the skatepark. We’re building relationships. It feels like as if my own children are staying with us. It feels really bad when they leave. We don’t know if they’ll come back. It’s good that people coming in from outside and mingle with our people. Habits that we would have never picked up, we have started to learn from the outsiders. We are imbibing great qualities from them, and because of it we will have a better future.
We help you to trigger change ...
... in an incredibly unique way. But it can take some time getting used to.
Together with experienced architects from Germany and the US we help you to design your skatepark – for beginners, advanced learners and professionals.
The design includes a 3D-model of the park as well as the technical drawings and measurements needed to build appropriate.
The Change Process
The change process only starts with the opening of the skatepark. What follows then is at least a 2-year-process of continous interactions with the community. The process is not a linear one and the precise outcome is open. We can help you to design these two years and make the most out of it!
During this time you will find the changemakers in your community!
In design thinking workshops (one to two days) we co-create with your community the ideal and right way forward to start the change/transformation process. During the first 2 years you should plan 3-4 workshops.
Stories Of Change
Nothing impossible! That's the magnitude of our stories!
If there is one BIG EVENT every year for the kids, it's certainly the Indian Skateboarding Championships. This year it took place in Chandigarh, Punjab. Nine of the Janwaar kids qualifed on Amdhya Pradesh state level – five boys and four girls. As usual we extended the team and we invited 14 kids for the travels. We rented a bus…
Two weeks ago TYPHOID was diagnosed in Janwaar. A few kids had fever and were down with chill. Unfortunately the doctor the first kid went out, prescribed BANNED medicine and this made things even worth. Once we found out, we immediately stopped the medicine and got the right one – yet especially Arun was suffering. Slowly he is feeling better…
On April 8th Ulrike was invited to give a talk at the HS Pforzheim. The topic was: How to drive longlasting (social) change (=sustainalbility). 80 students were watching online the Q&A – Benjamin Fritz, who has been to Janwaar for six weeks in 2019/2020, was asking the questions – it was fun! At the end of the Q&A I summarized…