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Explore Nature with a Sense of Freedom – New Houston Trail Allows the Visually Impaired

HOUSTON, TX- Leadership Houston Class XXIX’s new Palmetto Multi-Sensory Trail at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is currently under construction and will open to the public on June 10, 2011. The one-third-mile, guided-ropes trail built for the blind and visually-impaired supports personal independence, safety and features lush native flora and fauna that encourage visitors to use their senses of touch, hearing and smell. Nestled inside the inner-loop sanctuary, the Palmetto Multi-Sensory Trail will host 18 custom-built learning stations displaying descriptive and historical information in Braille and large print complemented by tactile pieces.

This trail will be the first of its kind in the southern United States and is endorsed by the National Federation of the Blind, Houston Council of the Blind, Lighthouse of Houston, Taping for the Blind, Inc., and Texas Parents of Blind Children.

“I’m amazed by the tremendous support from the community,” says David Unger, the project co-chair for Leadership Houston Class XXIX’s class project and husband of a visually impaired Houstonian.
“The trail offers my wife and so many other visually-impaired people an opportunity to explore nature with a sense of freedom.”

The trail transformed and re-purposed an under-utilized nature trail at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center located on the western edge of Memorial Park at 4501 Woodway Drive. The trailhead will be conveniently located directly across from the Nature Center building with easy access to the visitor parking lot.

“The Arboretum is thrilled to have Leadership Houston Class XXIX create this one-of-a-kind trail for our visitors,” says Debbie Markey, Executive Director of the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. “The trail will not only allow us to expand our educational programs to the visually impaired community, but also enhance every visitor’s experience as they are encouraged to explore nature by listening, smelling and touching at the stations located along the trail.”

Each class of Leadership Houston is required to complete a class project, coordinating and managing all aspects of the project from fundraising to construction to marketing and PR. Past class projects have raised as much as $40,000 and include Westbury Community Garden (Class XXVIII) and a 6-foot by 30-foot custom mosaic tile mural entitled “This is Houston” (Class XXVII).

“What started as an exercise in leadership development and team building as part of the Leadership Houston Class curriculum has turned into an impactful community project,” said Rene Cantu, Leadership Houston Executive Director. “It is truly a testament to the quality of participants our program is fortunate enough to recruit and makes us proud that they are making a positive change for the community of Houston.”

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Leadership Houston is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization who is committed to empowering and engaging Houston’s leaders for a positive change. The mission of Leadership Houston is to recognize and build Houston’s community with active business and civic leaders. Now in its 30th year, the result of Leadership Houston’s accomplishments can be measured in the civic and professional activities of our over 1,400 distinguished alumni, present in every facet of Houston’s industry.

Contact: Jeri Brooks
for Leadership Houston, Class 29 | 713.807.0781
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