Pulaski County High School’s sensory trail receives $25,000 grant

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 7:19 PM EST
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PULASKI CO., Va. (WDBJ/Pulaski County Public Schools) - The Pulaski County High School Sensory Trail project will be awarded a $25,000 grant from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation.

The grant proposal was submitted by PCHS Agriculture Teacher Carley Pavan-Ballard.

“The project came from a combination of myself and Mrs. Atkinson when we were trying to find hands-on things for my Fisheries and Wildlife students to do in the fall of 2020,” Mrs. Pavan-Ballard said. “Megan had read about a Sensory Trail in Northern Virginia and wanted to see if we could create something similar here on campus. After our initial meeting, the idea of the Sensory Trail started to develop. Once I started talking with my students, we got to work. Developing an outdoor classroom that is as handicap accessible as possible and has sensory-friendly elements throughout. At the time, I was teaching several students who had visual or mobility impairments and noticed that they had more limitations on what they had access to when we would do any labs or hands-on work.”

School officials say the project has continued to grow at PCHS, thanks to the hard work of the class.

Students built handicap-accessible flower beds, planted gardens, and more.

“All of this, they’re the ones who are coming up with the ideas for the different educational exhibits that we will have here. And like they’re the backbone of this, you know, I am just the person who gets to make all the phone calls and make things happen, but it’s the kids who are really the ones that are pulling it all together,” said Mrs. Pavan-Ballard.

Last year, the Sensory Trail project received several other grants and donations to help begin the project. Those included a $1,200 Living to Serve Semester Grant from the National FFA, a $1,750 donation from the NRV Master Gardener Association, $250 from a community member, and $1,000 from Keep Virginia Beautiful 30 in 30 Green Grants.

The Get Outdoors grant program provides funding to increase safe, equitable access to open space in underserved communities. There is no predetermined number of grants that are awarded each year, but in the latest round of Get Outdoors awards, there have been 19 projects across the Commonwealth selected.

The class hopes to continue working on the trail into 2022. They hope to expand the trail and add more accessible features.

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