The Slippery Rock University Storm Harbor Equestrian Center is in the process of incorporating a “Sensory Trail” into the trail system on campus. The trail will be open to the university. However, it is being designed mainly for people with disabilities.
“[We decided on it because of] a need for more sensory components in our program. We wanted to make it more nature based, so the sensory trail incorporates both elements,” said Gramlich, Equestrian Center facility manager.
The majority of the work that is done by the Equestrian Center is centered on assisting those with disabilities, and this new opportunity provides them with even more room to grow in that area.
The current trail that they will use is in serious need of renovating, and that is how the $20,000 Alcoa Foundation Grant will help. Once it is completed, the “Sensory Trail” will take on the formal name of the “Alcoa Foundation Transition Trail.” The current pathway that will be updated is near the compost piles at the Macoskey Center and is about an eighth of a mile long. The main goal of the trail will be to stimulate the senses, largely smell and touch, by providing interactive stations at several spots along the way. Many different plants will be used at several of those stations and even the usual sounds of nature will appeal to the senses.
“Because the trail is located where it is, sight will also play a role. It gives us a great view of campus and there are many things to look at while walking on it,” Gramlich said.
The team has many potential ideas that they hope will tie into the trail once the construction of it is underway. It is expected to take approximately eight months to complete, and although there is not a set date as of now, they hope to get started on it as soon as possible.
A project of this size could not have been tackled alone, and Gramlich feels that she had some very productive assistance.
“I had some great help from Christine Glenn’s class and a small group of students that did some research for this project. We are hopeful that this group will help to construct it along with other students from Parks and Recreation,” Gramlich said.
Glenn, an instructor in the Parks and Recreation Department, has been busy with the updating and renovating of the entire trail system. The “Sensory Trail,” however, was one of great importance to her.
“As an educator, anytime I can give my students a real-life project to work on, it means a lot. I feel that I was very lucky to be involved with such a great design project and to have students that are doing such solid work,” Glenn said.
The team consisted of four students who worked on the site analysis, during which they studied the conditions of the current trail site and program recommendations. They designed the trail path, made proposals of where the sensory stations should be, and planned on what could be incorporated into these stations. A couple of those students expressed a strong interest in continuing work on this project during the implementation stage when the time comes.
Because Glenn and her students have recently become even more involved with the entire trail system at the university, they understand the positive results that can come from this type of project.
“We are really lucky on campus to have green space available and that is why the university is working to protect it and allow us to be able to access it in a sustainable way. It really is a great opportunity for a campus like ours,” Glenn said.