This summer, West Michigan has a new opportunity for children and families who live with autism. A park in Ottawa County has been outfitted with several sensory stations for people with autism.

The trail began as an idea from Theodore "Tas" Stoetzner of Boy Scout Troop 354 of Jenison. Tas work with several organizations to create the trail for his Eagle Scout project in May.

The Ottawa County Parks Department says Tas approached them with the idea. They were happy to offer the park, but required Tas to recruit a local organization or business to adopt the trail.

Tas connected with Autism Support of West Shore and they agreed to sign on as Adopt-a-Park volunteers. It's a commitment which requires volunteers to visit the park throughout a year.

The park and sensory stations are now open at Grand River Park in Jenison. To enjoy the park, begin at the trailhead closest to the picnic building/lake and follow the loop to intersection 7 to 6 to 3 and end at intersection 2 to see all of the stations.

Sensory stations include:

  • Two listening stations where users can identify local birds and their calls.
  • A walkthrough station where users can walk on pine cones, stones, wood chips, and logs to feel different textures.
  • A manual dexterity station where children can dig and find 15 hidden paving stones, each with a different texture.
  • A yoga station which is intended to help users stretch their bodies and enjoy their surroundings.