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LIC rock wall gets $200,000 fed grant

Wendolin Lopez, 17, of the Bronx, scales the five-story rock wall at the Outward Bound Center in Long Island City. Photo by Ivan Pereira
By Ivan Pereira

A rock wall goes a long way toward developing an adolescent into an adult, the administrators of the Outward Bound program in Long Island City said.

The facility’s five-story climbing structure, behind its offices at 29-46 Northern Blvd., not only gives sixth- through 12th-graders a chance to have fun outdoors, but also teaches them important life-learning skills, according to Richard Stopol, president of the nonprofit.

“It’s a way of team-building and giving your ultimate best,” he said of competitions that utilize the wall.

On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) awarded Stopol and his staff a $200,000 federal grant to help the program expand. Maloney said since its inception in the city 1987, Outward Bound has helped give adolescents and teens from around the city a safe outlet after school.

The program is designed to help the students by giving them different leadership and learning activities as basic as small, academic workshops and as grand as the rock-wall training.

“When you think about Outward Bound, you think about the wilderness, but we’re bringing the wilderness into an urban area,” the congresswoman said.

The nonprofit currently works with nine schools from all five boroughs and has a full staff of trained educators and instructors, Stopol said. One of the key services offered is the facility’s five-day learning expeditions for teachers.

The program instructs educators on various topics, including literature, history and science, and helps them integrate teaching concepts and skills for students.

“It’s linked to the kinds of things schools are trying to teach: perseverance and leadership learning,” Stopol said.

Maloney said the additional money would allow Outward Bound to work with one additional school. The federal money could have other advantages, too, according to the program’s president.

“Public money like this can be used as a leverage to get more public funding,” he said. “The private companies can see that if the federal government is donating, it is a good cause.”

Maloney got to see the program at work when the students put on a climbing competition at the wall. She said she was amazed at the hard work they were doing and encouraged them to continue succeeding.

“What I like about the program is everyone is a winner,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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