Grants support the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park

Two recently awarded grants will support the Autism Nature Trail (ANT) planned for Letchworth State Park. This first-of-its-kind trail, designed specifically for visitors with autism spectrum disorder, will provide unique experiences for visitors of all abilities. The goal of the ANT is to promote inclusion, making the inspiring, engaging and calming qualities of nature accessible, safe and enjoyable for all who visit.

The Children’s Guild Foundation of Buffalo has recently awarded a grant to Camp Puzzle Peace (the ANT’s operating partner) to create specially crafted musical instruments for The Music Circle, one of the eight stations planned along the mile-long trail. Natural materials will be used to create percussion instruments. Visitors will be encouraged to engage in making music individually and with others in a circular grove of pine trees that sits far enough away from the main trail to avoid distraction for those who might be sensitive to the sounds.

As a winner of the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge, which is supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Built to Play Initiative, Camp Puzzle Peace will also receive funding toward the construction of The Playful Path, another station along the trail. This station will invite visitors to actively experience a variety of pathways made of diverse surface materials, such as gravel, grass, soil, pine needles, and pieces of river slate.

TWMLA collaborated on the conceptual design for the ANT, which has been utilized for early fundraising efforts. We are now engaged with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to advance the design, with the construction anticipated to be complete in 2021.