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Our season! Check the Calendar for Theme Weekends programs and links to materials, all are welcome to participate!

About The ANT

Trail sign

The Autism Nature Trail is designed to encourage inclusivity, combat social isolation, encourage skill-building and provide a connection to the natural world in a deep in nature setting that is welcoming to all people.

Dr. Susan Hyman of the Levine Autism Clinic in Rochester, NY described The ANT as the “ANT-ithesis of inactivity”. While other entities are making public places inclusive, The Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park has made an inclusive place public, planning outdoor recreation which is accessible and enjoyable for every visitor.

People

The work to establish The ANT began with a conversation between two women with perspective.

An observation of positive impact for one person became the realization that there was an opportunity to beneficially impact exponentially more lives. Among those whose tireless efforts have nurtured The ANT to life are its three “Aunts” and champions: Susan Herrnstein, Gail Serventi and Loren Penman.

The ANT Aunts

Partners

The ANT is a public-private partnership to provide a recreational trail within Letchworth State Park designed to allow visitors with varying abilities to push boundaries, explore new activities and develop skills that is supported by several organizational partners within New York State, including:

The ANT patch

Place

Ali’s experience with nature at Letchworth State Park was the spark that led to the idea for The ANT. So of course, Letchworth was the natural place for The ANT’s location.

Beyond that connection, Letchworth is recognized by those who live nearby and around the globe as one of the most beautiful and inspiring places in the world. It is hard to say “Letchworth is a well-kept secret” now that it enjoys the distinction of having been voted the #1 state park in the US and attracts nearly a million visitors annually.

Appreciation for the support of the teams at Letchworth, Natural Heritage Trust, Camp Puzzle Peace, Perry Central School District, the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and each donor, sponsor, and organizational partner cannot be overstated.

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Support

The ANT is also grateful to have the support and endorsements many more, including:

Loren, Temple, Gail

“I’m glad that my suggestions for the Autism Nature Trail have been integrated into the final design and overall plan. The Trailhead Pavilion as a pre-walk station is important since many autistic children need to know what they’re getting into before they will engage. Cuddle swings and gliders are good choices for movement. I understand the cost involved in providing trained staff for the Trail, but its success depends on people who are passionate about nature who will get the children engaged.”

—Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University

Joe Mantegna

'We sometimes forget that children with autism become adults with autism — and they are adults a lot longer than they are children. The Autism Nature Trail will provide a welcoming environment for visitors of all ages to experience the excitement, joy and comfort found in the wonders of our natural world. This unique form of direct and accepting engagement with nature in a world-class park adds a new dimension of exposure, with the potential of providing a lifetime of meaningful and fulfilling experiences.'

—Joe Mantegna, actor, autism activist and Honorary Chair for The ANT

Ellen Bry

“As the parent of one neurotypical daughter and two sons on the spectrum who are at different levels of functioning, it was always challenging to find activities we could do together as a family. When I was first consulted about the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park in New York State, I envisioned a place where one of my boys could be captivated by the water feature while the other studied the patterns of the Sunshine Slope while my daughter explored the adjoining Nature Center independently — all in a safe haven where a sudden outburst or meltdown did not mean that we would feel the need to pack up and leave. To have a park space intentionally designed for the enjoyment of individuals on the autism spectrum along with their families and friends is unprecedented — and long overdue.”

—Ellen Bry, actress, mother, autism advocate

News from The ANT

News from The ANT

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