Wayne Post, link to original post
It all started in June of 2011 after Mark DeCracker, of Lyons, met Leigh Ann Henry, a 2006 graduate from Lyons High School who suffered serious injuries in a 2009 car crash and is now in a wheelchair. The conception of an accessible nature trail began and Forever Wild for Everyone was launched by Trail Works, Inc.
DeCracker, a volunteer with Trail Works, Inc., brought together key people and organizations to start construction and brainstorm ideas on expansion of the trail. Cornell Cooperative Extension Creating Healthy Places Project, a grant funded by the NYS DOH, was in the early planning stages of the trail just by chance. It was in the Creating Healthy Places project plan to work with the Lyons Community Center after school program to plant a community garden at the center and after talking with DeCracker, a partnership was formed and a 3-sisters’ garden was planted (corn, beans and squash) and a wide variety of ideas were discussed.
“Anyone who has met Mark DeCracker knows he has nonstop energy and a love of nature,” Sandi Bastedo, Coordinator for Creating Healthy Places Project, said. “He is inspired by the youth of the Lyons Community Center and wants to reconnect children in the community to nature with trails and themed gardens.”
The youth are eagerly engaged with the planting and watering of the Trail of Hope. With assistance from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County Creating Healthy Places Project, hands- on learning opportunities have been taking place in a fun and educational way with the youth.
The plan for creating a trail was becoming a reality. Then on June 9, 2012, a gray and rainy day, over 150 people, including Leigh Ann Henry and her family, turned out for the dedication of the Forever Wild for Everyone – Trail of Hope. Forever Wild for Everyone believes that all people, regardless of their ability or age, have the right to enjoy nature and its many benefits. Our role as stewards of the Forever Wild for Everyone program is to develop and/or designate nature trails without barriers so everyone can enjoy them.
As the morning progressed, the sun began to shine and the dedication and ribbon cutting were able to proceed on the trail. Trees and shrubs were planted by young and old. Alexis, one of the youth who has been working on the trail, was asked how she knew about breaking up the roots as she was planting a flowering shrub. “I remember that from last year when we were planting,” Alexis said.
Attendees also enjoyed making their own trail mix and face painting supplied by the Creating Healthy Places Project. “it has been a rewarding project that we have been fortunate to be part of,” Kimberly Gardner, Creating Healthy Places Community Nutrition Educator, said. “This is not only a Trail of Hope, but a trail of caring.”
The next major plan for the Trail of Hope is to expand the trail so there is easy accessibility to the Erie Canal path. Wayne County residents are invited to enjoy the Forever Wild for Everyone – Trail of Hope at their leisure. The trial is located at 4 Manhattan St. Lyons NY at the Lyons Community Center.