Sparkt Bridges

How Saving A Church Is Saving Lives Too

A couple bought an abandoned church and turned it into a community center. What they've created is so much bigger.

This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to "build bridges" with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.

Giulia Lozza Petrucci might not consider herself a bridge-builder.

But she is.

Except her bridges look like something you'd find in an Indiana Jones movie: wooden slats and logs connected by ropes, deliberately designed to provide unsteady footing as you work to get from one end to the other. Climbing nets that dare you not to look down. A high-flying zipline that takes some bravery to step off the edge.

While the course is designed as an individual challenge, the kids support each other.

Here's the surprise. Petrucci's bridges aren't in a jungle: they soar 20 feet above the sanctuary of a historic church in Homestead, PA that had been abandoned for ten years. She and her husband, and their volunteers saved it, with a bigger mission in mind.

It's something you've got to see to believe.

The Dragon's Den rope course was designed and planned (for free!) by two Italian designers. Community benefactors and volunteers raised the major money it took to restore the church building and build the course.

The kids will tell you the skateboard challenge is one of the most intimidating!

Instructors at Dragon's Den help train children (and adults) how to negotiate the course and then afterwards, help them think about how the new problem-solving skills they've acquired can be used in their daily lives.

Paid bookings at the course help pay for free programs for local children. Go to the Dragon's Den website for information on hours and COVID-19 restrictions.

The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced with the generous support of UPMC. Life Changing Medicine.

How can you start something good?
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