Magazine article Parks & Recreation

"Just Add Concrete": That's All Stephanie Murdock and O Ther Baltimore Skateboarders Want

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

"Just Add Concrete": That's All Stephanie Murdock and O Ther Baltimore Skateboarders Want

Article excerpt

"The young people of Baltimore are being underserved." That is the simple refrain that Stephanie Murdock, director of the not-for-profit group Skatepark of Baltimore, echoes when asked what motivates her in her effort to make a 25,000-square-foot, park-department-owned concrete skate park a reality in her city. Following up that refrain is a rapid-fire list of facts and statistics: Baltimore's 30,000 skateboarders have only half the estimated 40,000 square feet of skate terrain required for them to properly practice their sport; skate parks cost about one quarter what a new recreation center costs; and the centrally located skate park Murdock's group is attempting to build would serve about 50 to 100 young people per day--at a time when half the city's rec centers are scheduled to be closed for budgetary reasons.

It's no wonder Murdock recently won a $50,000 grant from the Open Society of Baltimore: She believes passionately in her cause--and she has immersed herself in the economics, the social benefits, and the design of skateparks.

But Murdock is more than a grant-chaser and skate park planner: She also believes in recruiting the city's youth into her army of fundraisers, designers, advocates, and planners. In an effort to teach Baltimore's young skateboarders about leadership, community service, fundraising, and pride of ownership, she runs an after-school program from an existing skate park. During those after-school hours, Murdock uses cameras and modeling clay to capture kids' design ideas. She also organizes the fundraisers. Two recent successful, youth-centered fundraising activities have included sales of bottled water at public events. (The custom labels read, "Just add concrete!") and a "Girls of Skateboarding" calendar showing girls from the group doing ambitious maneuvers ($20, www. …

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