Teens from Telluride and Norwood banded together recently to begin the first phase of improvements to the Norwood Skate Park. Working under the direction of the True North Youth Program, the teens were aided by Norwood physical education teacher Andrew Parlagreco and True North’s executive director, Lanier Nelson. They hauled away loose gravel and rocks from around the skate park, removed a wasp’s nest, replaced screws and stripped the deteriorating coping in order to refresh the half-pipe with new coping.
Parlagreco moved to Colorado last June, after teaching for seven years in Georgia, to become the PE teacher for Norwood’s K-6th graders. During his adolescent years, he was a sponsored competitive skateboarder, was featured in a skate magazine and appeared in the Tony Hawk movie “Parental Guidance.”
Parlagreco noticed that Norwood had a decent skate park which was being used by young people in the community, but it was in disrepair and unsafe in its existing condition. Some screws were coming loose, the coping was deteriorated, and there was plenty of gravel and rocks strewn around the ramps. Parlagreco called his friend and fellow soccer coach Lanier Nelson, to see if the two could join forces and make some improvements.
Nelson, who also is owner of BLN Construction, saw a perfect opportunity to get the youth of True North involved in the project. The two presented their idea for a community collaboration to Norwood Town Hall, and the Town of Norwood granted permission to improve the skate park as well as cover some expenses for materials.
Parlagreco said the main goal in this first phase is to “fix the rocks, fix the ramps and make it safe. We have one more work weekend and then phase one will be complete.” First-phase projects will be completed by the end of this summer, and the team hopes to raise funds in order to complete the second phase over the course of summer 2017. Plans have been drawn up for that phase, which would involve design and rebuild of the park to include new skate-specific surface materials, which can be costly.
Parlagreco is hoping to raise $5,000 to $10,000 in order to create an ideal skate park where kids can “both progress and be safe… . I would like to make a skate park that’s designed differently than the classic bowls in the area. We would have a 4-foot ramp, a 5-foot ramp and an extension, so kids can start on smaller stuff and progress to the larger ramps, and it can be a place where people from the entire region want to come.”
Alpine Lumber has pledged to sponsor the wood and BLN Construction will be lending tools and carpentry expertise.
“The beauty of this project is that it is both a service learning opportunity and a trades training for the kids,” said Nelson. “We are teaching them about carpentry, how to use power tools, and we have kids participating from both communities, to make a better place for them and their peers to recreate.”
True North Youth Program is 501(c)3 nonprofit organization formed in 2014 by a team of local youth development professionals who identified a need in the community for a program to support teens year-round.
True North has served 43 teens this year in Telluride, Norwood and Nucla through a variety of programs: college-prep and scholarship coaching, after-school academic tutoring, year-round outdoor education and wilderness adventures, community service learning, career exploration, trades training and life-skills workshops.
This summer, True North initiated a program called Rising Stars to support rising ninth-grade girls as they began their journey through high school and to college. The three-month program, led by Telluride teacher A.J. Crocker, involved goal-setting work, STEM education projects, outdoor adventure, academic planning and college campus visits. Twelve girls participated.
Fulfillment of required participation and attendance earns each girl a $250 scholarship, with the possibility of earning $1,000 by her senior year, to be used for higher education.
Also, this last May, True North celebrated the successful college-prep coaching of four students from the area. True North staff worked with them individually through the college application and interview process, resulting in a combined total of $426,200 in scholarship and financial aid awards.
Betsy Walker coached youth in Norwood and Nucla. One young lady who Walker coached was Nucla’s valedictorian; she received scholarship and financial aid to a prestigious college.
At Telluride High School, True North identified a young man who showed an interest in architecture and matched him, during his senior year, with a local architect for a semester-long internship. True North assisted in procuring occupational supplies, such as a drafting board. He graduated in May with four scholarships totaling over $60,000, and will be attending Colorado Mesa University in the fall to take architecture prerequisites.
True North matched two other high school students with summer jobs, one in the field of ranch management and the other in sound and vision technology.
Throughout the summer, True North’s Mountain Monday Program offers weekly outdoor education, recreation, and fitness activities. Participants participated in
KungFu, mountain biking, hiking, Frisbee and basketball. Throughout the year, True North offers overnight wilderness team-building adventures around the region.
During the most recent school year, six of the lowest-performing participants attended True North weekly academic tutoring sessions and were able to raise their GPA in order to advance to the next grade level. Community volunteers assisted the group in all subjects and students requested twice-weekly sessions for the next school year. Academic tutoring sessions for high-schoolers will resume again in the fall.
True North is looking for volunteer tutors for all subjects. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
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