At 16, teen-agers' minds focus on school, friends and extracurricular activities. Not Kaitlin Fabich -- she's determined to promote skateboarding. Since she was a 10th-grader, the Shenango Township resident has been developing an idea for a skate park in her community. "I was in Eckerd's in New Castle, and I heard people complaining about people skating in the parking lot," Fabich said. "I went around my township and saw a lot of 'no skateboarding' signs. It's a sport just like baseball or football, they should be able to skate somewhere." Fabich has been involved with Girl Scouts since she was in kindergarten. As a senior cadet, she came up with the skate park idea as her Gold Award project. Fabich explained the Gold Award is the most prestigious of Girl Scout awards and requires 30 hours spent in a leadership role and 40 hours spent at a paying job, internship or apprenticeship before beginning the project. The project itself requires a minimum of 65 hours. While studying at Allegheny College, Fabich's sister mentioned a skate park in Meadville to her. Fabich said she decided she would take the same ideas from Meadville's park to use for one in her hometown at Shenango Park. After months of research and preparation, Fabich said, she submitted her idea to the Girl Scout committee. To her surprise, she said, "the committee was kind of blown away." Afterwards, Fabich proposed the idea to the township's supervisors. "She impressed us with all the work she had done, so we gave her the OK," said Supervisor Bob Peters. "I think she did a great job pursuing the whole thing. It's a way to promote (Shenango) park." Now that she has the OK to build the skate park, she needs money. Fabich said she must raise $50,000 to $100,000 to build a 100-by-100-foot park, and if more money is raised, it could be bigger. Fabich said the park will benefit more than just skaters. "The police won't have to kick kids out of places for skateboarding, and the Shenango high school principal, Mr. (Michael) Schreck, said students could maintain it for their senior projects." Because the park will be set back in a field, she said, the supervisors require a sidewalk from the road to it. As a thank you, Fabich is considering constructing that sidewalk in bricks with a contributor's name on each of them. For large donations, she hopes to place ads promoting the donors on the skateboard ramps. After she gets enough money, she said, she will get a group of skateboarders together to decide what they would like in the park. They will design the park, because it will be for their use. Fabich said the park will be free to the public, and if there is any trouble, the township will put a fence around it and lock it up for a while as a punishment. "The skaters won't want any vandalism," she explained. "They will watch and protect it. There's no place to skate and this will be better than parking lots." Once she has the money, the park should take a month to construct. "I just need to raise the money, and then I'm good to go," she said. "I'm going to do it."

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