CASTILE, N.Y. — A new nature trail that is designed with people with autism and developmental disabilities in mind is now under construction at Letchworth State Park.
The Autism Nature Trail will feature eight stations for engagement in its one-mile loop. The state says experiences at the stations will range from "quiet engagement to active exploration and adventure."
“Designed by experts, the Autism Nature Trail will be a safe and inclusive space outdoors where all are welcome to experience the physical, emotional and social benefits of outdoor recreation," State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said.
The trail will be open to everyone, but is designed to meet the sensory needs and experiences of people with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities. The trail will be located near the Humphrey Nature Center.
“New York State is committed to making sure New York’s State Parks and the great outdoors belong to all New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement on Friday.
The trail will be predictable with signage to guide those accessing it and will have "alone zones" and cuddle swings. Some of the planned stations include a gentle maze and a dedicated space for movement such as running and climbing.
So far, $3 million has been raised to build the trail. The goal is to raise $3.7 million in total to go towards the trail, including creating an endowment to ensure maintenance.
“The Autism Nature Trail is an exciting, innovative project that will offer strategically-designed outdoor recreation to people with autism and their families,” added Cuomo.