Philly students zipline to success at The Discovery Center in Fairmount Park

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Friday, August 12, 2022
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Life lessons are happening on the site of a reservoir that was once closed to the public for roughly 50 years.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Everyone's always proud of an accomplishment," said 17-year-old Edward Rosario. "And something like this, I'd say it's a pretty big one."

Rosario is a member of the Philadelphia non-profit, SquashSmarts, which uses the sport of squash as a platform to teach life lessons. But today, he stepped outside of the comfort zone of a four-walled court.

"Ziplining can be scary at first," he said. "I, myself, am afraid of heights, but I know that I've got people behind me and people who support me."

With one step, Rosario went soaring on the zipline at The Discovery Center in Fairmount Park today. It was the result of a partnership between SquashSmarts and the Philadelphia Outward Bound School (POBS), another non-profit that champions outdoor challenges.

Their home base is the Strawberry Mansion Reservoir, formerly known as the East Park Reservoir.

"For a long time this supply of drinking water to the city of Philadelphia, and then in the 70s the city shut it down," said Jack Organ, Center-Based Program Coordinator for POBS. "So, for 50 years, people weren't allowed access here."

That changed in 2018, when the National Audubon Society teamed up with POBS to converge the wildlife hotspot with human activities.

"What we're trying to do is like, make this a good place for the humans in the area to be back in here and for the other-than-humans that have also come into this space," said Organ.

To learn more about activities at The Discovery Center and how to participate, or to learn about POBS and SquashSmarts, visit their website.

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