Medical worker's passion project for skating helps transform neglected West Philly park

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A neglected West Philadelphia skate park is getting a much-needed facelift thanks to a medical worker whose passion project is to introduce inner-city kids to the world of skating and keep them off the streets.

When Cohen Thompson isn't working as a surgical assistant, he's wheeling around at his non-profit, Skate University, helping connect kids with an alternative outlet other than traditional sports.

"Everybody can't play soccer, basketball, football. Something like skating is character building," said Thompson.

Through his organization, he's taught hundreds of kids to skate across the city, and now the West Philadelphia native is eying Granahan Playground & Skatepark as a new home--a city site that's been neglected until now.

"He pitched his skating idea, the commissioner fell in love with his idea and now fast-tracked that park's renovation," said Councilmember Curtis Jones.

"The next day after that Zoom call, they were out doing the demolition," added Jones.

In the meantime, Thompson used some of his own money to patch up the skate park's pavement until city work is complete.

Thompson says the goal is to also include programming for kids, as the pandemic minimizes what's open, crime continues to spike and businesses try to bounce back from the unrest.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.