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Organizers open up public fundraising phase for Autism Nature Trail

Raven Brown
Updated: January 30, 2020 05:59 PM
Created: January 30, 2020 04:43 PM

CASTILE, N.Y. (WHEC) — Organizers of the Autism Nature Campaign are hoping to raise some more money to create the first-of-its-kind autism nature trail at Letchworth State Park pushing to build a park that's inclusive for people with all abilities.

It's an exciting new privately-funded initiative to create a trail really directed specifically to the needs of the ASD community for those with autism spectrum disorder,” New York’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said.

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Kulleseid kicked off the private fundraising campaign with the goal to have a safe, judgment-free space for all. 

“Everybody is going to enjoy it and we're going to learn about each other and maybe hopefully put away some myths that have not been helpful towards treating this community and helping it to really fully participate in our culture and society,” Kulleseid said.

Plans for the one-mile eight-station trail will allow those who have autism to enjoy nature in a comfortable and engaging way. 

"We are making an accommodating place public," Letchworth State Parks co-chair Loren Penman said.

Penman said the campaign has already raised $2 million toward construction in the private phase.

“The numbers are staggering,” Penman said. “One in 59 school children are now diagnosed with autism that is a significant population and then there’s all of the people who grow up.”

Organizers are pushing to raise the remaining $1.9 million in the public phase for an overall $3.9 million project goal hoping to continue to be inclusive and welcoming all New Yorkers into the parks.

"This is a bonafide nature trail that a preschooler will have a different experience than a high schooler who will have a different experience than an octogenarian,” Penman said. 

Penman said they hope to have the trail up and running by spring of next year.


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