When he was a kid, Evan Barnard, now 19, learned that someone had damaged a Braille nature trail. People who are blind or have low vision use these trails to explore nature. Barnard helped fix the trail. Then he created a new one. He spoke about his efforts with TFK’s Kio Herrera.
A Braille nature trail is a footpath that has guide ropes and Braille signs. There are spots along the trail where visitors can touch scratchy tree bark, listen to birds, or smell flowers.
It took about two years to complete the trail. The most important part was having members of the blind community test it. I wanted to include the people that would benefit from it the most.
Being outdoors can be unfamiliar for many of them. I remember one student who was nervous during my guided nature walk. Once it was over, he wanted to do it again. It is a transformative experience for many of our visitors.
Experiencing nature is important for everyone. The trail allows people with low vision to be outdoors and independent.
Braille trails and other outdoor opportunities exist all over the world. But most people are not aware of them. I created an online list to help solve this problem. Now people can find trails close to where they live.
They have taught me so much about overcoming obstacles and appreciating the world around us.
It was very powerful. I got to meet hundreds of people. I would definitely recommend finding people from all types of communities to share your ideas with.
You don’t have to start your own organization to make a difference. Get to know your neighbors. Figure out what they need, and let them be part of your project.