The Rev. Bill Cotton wasn’t sure he was seeing what he was seeing. As a civil rights leader, the longtime pastor of Grace United Methodist in Des Moines, and founding member of the grassroots organization AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy), he had seen a lot. But he never thought he would see a teenager on the roof of one of his two adjoining church garages attempt to jump the gap between them on a skateboard. Fortunately, the skater made the jump, Bill didn’t have a heart attack, and he did what everyone does to annoying skateboarders — he shooed them away.
Little did Bill, who has since died, know that those skaters, from his own congregation, would join AMOS and start a revolution in Des Moines.
The skaters were part of the Grace United Methodist Church youth group, and when AMOS organized a large-scale community listening campaign, they met with that youth group and heard of the need for a first-class skatepark in Des Moines. That led AMOS to Callanan Middle School’s newly formed skateboard club, where they heard more of the same. The AMOS adults challenged the youth to organize a presentation to Des Moines’ mayor and City Council at an upcoming AMOS Issues Assembly....
[Photo Credit: Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines]
There From the Beginning: Lauridsen Skatepark, Des Moines Community Foundation [video]
Years ago, AMOS initiated conversations with families about what was needed for local youth. The answer that emerged was surprising: a large, well-developed skate park that could provide multiple outdoor recreational activities. For years, skateboarders had turned a public plaza into an ad hoc skatevpark, sometimes â€” to the consternation of police and adults â€” turning sculptures and handrails into skateboard ramps. AMOS leaders identified a location in Des Moines and leveraged resources for the park design -- which, when built, will be one of the largest in the United States.Read more
Dr. Dipesh Navsaria explained that when young children are routinely stressed, such as in cases of abuse, "their systems bombard them with 'flight or flight' hormones", the overproduction of which can stunt their ability to control their emotions or even learn.Read more
"A rose to AMOS, a central Iowa church group, for another approach to getting people on the right track to meaningful careers... Project Iowa helps direct unemployed or underemployed participants into careers that happen to be in demand, such as welding or health care. The project was initiated last year by AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy), a non-profit group formed by religious leaders and church groups. The program helps participants get training and certification for jobs with local employers looking for workers with specific skills. Project Iowa has assisted 57 participants, and more than 80 percent of those who have completed job training are employed."Read more
"Jalissa Daniels wrote dark poetry as an early adolescent...She became pregnant at 15, graduated from Scavo Alternative High School and worked at convenient stores and temp agencies. Even though these jobs helped pay the bills, they were not fulfilling...Finding full-time work with benefits was looking grim...Read more
30 AMOS leaders "attended the first court watcher training ...in Des Moines earlier this month. Another 30 are scheduled to go through training soon. The Rev. Denny Coon, pastor of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church in Urbandale, said his first experience as an observer was enlightening but somewhat troubling...."Read more
Thirty six workforce development trainees graduated this summer from Project IOWA, a 21st century workforce development initiative established by AMOS. 86% are now established in career-track jobs with full-benefits and are earning, on average, $15 / hour. Some advanced manufacturing graduates started at $20 / hour!
"Project IOWA is a faith-based initiative in Des Moines that provides worker training....'The workers know this is their best chance at changing their lives, and they're giving it their all,' said Fugenschuh..."
Des Moines Area Community College welding student Jason Gregory, right, works with instructor Jeff Pratt. Gregory is part of Project Iowa, which was founded by AMOS and helps workers get the training they need to find jobs.Read more
"On Saturday, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS)...unveiled a preliminary design for the park at the Subsect Skate Shop in Des Moines' East Village.
The facility will feature all three of the main structures skateboarders prefer: a deep vertical bowl, a "flow section" that recreates the experience of downhill skateboarding, and a plaza with stairs and rails, Rogers said..."Read more
In Iowa, AMOS won an additional $100 thousand for Project IOWA; Republican Governor Branstad included the project as a line item in the state budget as demonstration of support. Twenty students were selected and are prepared to begin coursework in early 2012.