A place of inspiration!

Our vision is to challenge children of all ages to embrace life with courage, joy, and passion on their journey to becoming successful adults and outstanding citizens.

In the heart of Homestead, a stunning Italianate Renaissance church, St. Mary Magdalene, gets new life and purpose. The Dragon’s Den has transformed a decaying, historic building into a vibrant community center that fosters team-building, experiential learning, and self-development.

Our purposes are to…

  • …promote the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and cultural development of all children and youth with different backgrounds and abilities.
  • …provide out-of-school programs in cooperation with local schools and community charitable organizations assuring the continued use and cultural appreciation of a certified historic structure in the Homestead community.
  • …engage all participants through the use of our challenge course and goal-oriented team building activities to push the boundaries of what they previously thought possible of themselves.

Our Programs

The Dragon’s Den aims to advance children’s wellness by holistically expanding personal boundaries, and promoting inclusion, understanding, cooperation, and communication among children with various capacities and backgrounds.

Free Wednesdays

Booking a session on our challenge course is free for the youth of Homestead, West Homestead, and Munhall every Wednesday. Free tickets are available for kids ages 5-18, and an adult must be present for the booking. Please call 412-461-3336 or email bookings@dragonsdenpgh.org to reserve a spot.

After-School Program

Through the 2021-2022 school year, Dragon’s Den hosts a free after-school program on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-5:30 PM, where kids in the neighborhood come together to participate in organized activities and enjoy a warm meal, courtesy of Rainbow Kitchen. Our kids collaborate on STEAM activities (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and are participating in the annual Pittsburgh Public Theater Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest after receiving two Honorable Mention entries last year. If you are local to the Homestead area, your child may also be eligible for this free program. If you are interested, please send an email to programs@dragonsdenpgh.org and put “After School Program” in the subject, or call 412.461.3336 for more information.

The Dragon’s Den’s philosophy, built on our respect and understanding of children of all abilities, allows us to strive to create an environment conducive to promoting dignity, independence, and appreciation of all those who participate in our programs.

The Value of Aesthetic Appreciation

Beauty has an intrinsic value essential to human development. The unique philosophy of the Dragon’s Den is that children will thrive and develop as integrated human beings and community members if they experience beauty as an ordinary part of life.

The integration of aesthetic appreciation with physical, emotional, and social development activities becomes part of the child’s identity and imagination. As David McCullough in “Brave Companions” notes, “If character is destiny, so too, is terrain.

What Makes Us Unique

The Dragon’s Den offers, in a stunning historical building, a transformative experience through an indoor challenge course (complete with a high and low ropes course, zip line, and climbing wall), team building activities, and other after-school enrichment programs.

We believe that through creative repurposing, beautiful historical buildings can not only be saved from degradation and abandonment but can also become safe havens for children in need.

Challenge By Choice

Dragon’s Den believes in the Challenge by Choice approach. Participants navigate the challenge course at their own pace, deciding the level of challenge they want to conquer.

Challenge by Choice is incorporated in all of our programs off the course as well. We recognize that there is more than one way to achieve a goal, and we encourage this kind of critical thinking in all endeavors.

This is an important step in discovering limitations, untapping problem-solving potential, and pushing boundaries further than one might have thought possible.

The Therapeutic Value of a Challenge Course

“In 1971, Project Adventure began to integrate the challenge course into public school physical education classes. This movement was the beginning of a trend that has led to the current practice of using the challenge course as an educational, developmental, and therapeutic medium to enhance both personal and professional growth.

“During the 1980s, researchers in the field of therapeutic recreation began to report the individual benefits one could derive from participation in challenge course experiences. Research focused on identifying or demonstrating the benefits of participating in challenge courses primarily by psychiatric patients and at risk, adjudicated, and emotionally disturbed youth. The research and literature during the 1990s became more diverse, with efforts directed towards team building and group development, the physiological responses to participation in high ropes courses activities, accessibility, risk management, and a variety of professional topics important to challenge course providers.”

Source: “The Research and Literature on Challenge Courses: An Annotated Bibliography 2nd Edition. Compiled by Aram Attarian, Ph.D. North Carolina State University Department of Parks Recreation & Tourism Management, February 2005, page. 4