Challenge Course for Challenged Lives

Imagine this. A beautiful but abandoned Italianate Renaissance church (Homestead’s St. Mary Magdalene) gets new life and new purpose: engaging at-risk and special-needs neighborhood children in innovative programs in a safe, supportive environment, while transforming a still-beloved building into a vibrant community center.

Dragon’s Den, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Homestead, Pa., has a bold idea to reinvent the church space by building a suspended challenge course with a 150-foot-long zipline that will connect the choir loft with the former altar. Sounds like just another children's gym to you? It’s very different. Dozens of studies document the benefits of the regular use of such courses for all children but especially for at-risk children without healthy, physical alternatives. The challenge course develops self-confidence, focus, strategic thinking and the ability to overcome challenges, all that can be applied to everyday-life situations in school and at home. Well-trained staff and mentors teach and encourage children to work from 50 strategically placed platforms, scattered among sixteen, 17-foot-tall columns. Moreover, there’s the soaring church architecture that can’t help but inspire kids to achieve the heights of their abilities.

Funded by Pittsburgh, PA (December 2018)