Agape Project NY and Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Center partner to create sensory path
Two Brewster-based nonprofits are teaming up to create something special for people on the autism spectrum. The Agape Project NY and Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Center partnered to create “Project Walk With Me,” a new sensory trail at the 22-acre equestrian center for use by children and adults.
“We’ve always looked locally to see where there’s an opportunity to create something beneficial for the community,” said Ginny Gerard, one of the founding members of The Agape Project NY. “Each year we plan to partner with one organization. Pegasus had started a sensory path but needed help getting it to completion. We thought what a great way to kick off something we hope to do every year.”
Autistic people can experience over-responsiveness and under-responsiveness to a wide range of stimuli, according to AutismSpeaks.org, a national nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of people with autism. Sensory pathways are designed to provide a positive experience with sensory stimuli.
The sensory trail that Agape Project and Pegasus are jointly creating will have crushed stone footing, zigzagging paths, musical elements, a gently sloping bridge and more, all designed to give different experiences and sensations to participants. The trail will be wide enough so that it can be experienced on foot, while leading a horse, or on horseback.
A pollinator garden at the center of the trail will attract butterflies and other beneficial insects, Gerard said. Here, narrower pathways will feature trellised arches and tiny bells to provide a musical component to the experience.
A local Girl Scout troop has been working to add their talents to the project, creating signs that identify different insects. Another group of volunteers got together in late May to create concrete stepping stones marked by numbers and butterfly shapes.
“A lot of people from the community are coming together to make this happen,” Gerard said.
Still, the project needs more volunteers. The organizations are asking for volunteers to help this Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to complete the project. Volunteers will help spread footing in pathways, install sensory elements, plant seedlings and more.
The finished pathway will be accessible to individuals who are already involved in a Pegasus program. The organization offers programs for people with autism, first responders and veterans.
“Pegasus runs so many programs,” Gerard said.It’s really impressive what they do.