Building a platform for success at AJES OWLS Trail

GRAFTON—Grab your tools and get ready to come out this weekend to help Anna Jarvis Elementary School with a project.

Last year, work began at the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites (OWLS) trail located behind the school.

The Taylor County Collaborative Family Resource Network administrated a mini grant, in conjunction with Try This West Virginia, for the project.

With help from many local organizations and volunteers, the trail was revitalized and students were able to enjoy the trail during the school year.

The groups and organizations began working on the trail last July, with clearing brush, cutting down trees and defining a path with the addition of gravel.

There were also benches and trash cans placed throughout the trail.

In addition, a lending library was placed at the entrance of the path courtesy of the Wotring Family.

Throughout the process, the organizations and volunteers shared they had a vison to expand the trail to add more stations for students to enjoy.

Parent Teacher Organization member Alicia Lyons was Lead of the Outdoor Recreation and Beautification Sub-committee along with Kelly Boyle and Starla McCauley.

Lyons reported that that she wrote and submitted a grant on behalf of the AJES PTO and the Local School Improvement Council. 

“We partnered with PATCH Coalition, the school counselor, and the FRN,” she disclosed. “The project is called Mountaineer Mindfulness and Movement.”

Through the help of a Families Leading Change grant, the groups are planning to build a mindfulness platform along the trail.

Lyons shared that classes will be able to participate in Kidding Around Yoga, as well as relax and enjoy nature. 

She reported that it will be about 18ft by 24ft, and there will be a ramp that is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

“We have all the yoga stuff already, just need the place to do it,” commented Lyons. “We hope it would be used for small outdoor concerts and other events too.”

We basically just wanted to add a safe environment that exposed the kids to the outdoors, where they could practice mindfulness and healthy stress relief strategies like Kidding Around Yoga and meditation. 

“We are hoping this helps decrease the need for suspensions and other issues, because unwanted behavior has decreased,” she added. “We have an elementary school that has a lot of negative factors impacting the health and educational success of the students, and we want to address those.” 

In addition to the mindfulness platform Lyons shared that she is currently working on another grant to help fund three new stations.

She revealed that those stations include a climbing wall, an outdoor art station and a balancing beam.

Lyons expressed that the organization just want the trail to be awesome, used and enjoyed.

“Please bring any tools that may be useful for woodworking: hammer, saws, screwdrivers, etc.,” said Lyons. “We want the kids to be able to use it this school year.”

Work on the mindfulness platform will take place on July 28-29, at 9:00 a.m. So, grab your tools and head on out to help build a platform for fun and education at the Anna Jarvis OWLS trail.