Eagle Scout hopeful creating a trail for the visually impaired

Jeremy Trottier, 15, stands on a portion of the trail where he is working to install a braille-based trail in Stanley Park to assist the visually impaired. The project is part of his effort to become an Eagle Scout. (The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A Westfield teenager is helping to make Stanley Park more accessible to the visually impaired.

Boy Scout Jeremy Trottier, 15, of Westfield, is designing and constructing a braille-based trail through a wooded portion of Stanley Park, as part of his project to earn his Eagle Scout, titled the “Blind Side.” The path is going along the path of the annual Stanley Park Wheel Walk, which is designed to give access to those with various disabilities and impairments. Trottier said that he wanted to create the path to give better representation to the visually impaired on the path and that they are seeking donations for the project.

“When we do the Wheel Walk I realized that the visually impaired were not put into the thought of the Wheel Walk,” Trottier said. “I wanted to put something back into Stanley Park and give back to them.”

According to Trottier, he first became involved with the Wheel Walk in 2009, when he and his mother, Heidi Trottier, said that it first began. He did this, in part, to honor a friend and neighbor who is in a wheelchair.

The braille-based trail will consist of an approximately 300-foot path along a small brook, which is accented with trees, short bamboo shoots, other flora and mostly-even terrain. Along the path will be several posts, which will hold a guide rope, as well as 18 inch by 24 inch fiberglass polymer resin placards. The placards will display short paragraphs of what the scenery is like at each spot, written in both braille and English lettering. The trail will also feature a bench, as well as some modifications to the path.

And while Trottier is spearheading the project but he won’t be taking it on alone. He has had assistance through his family, the boy scouts, including a former and current headmaster, and according to Bob McKean, director of Stanley Park, the facility will be donating some supplies and handiwork, as well.

“We are donating some of the material they need,” McKean said. This mostly consists of brackets and other fasteners.

“Our carpenter will be working with him to assist, or at least oversee,” he added.

This, in part, is to make sure that the project is safe and well-constructed.

Still, Trottier is doing the bulk of the organizing, from start to finish, and will be assisting with the installation, along with the boy scouts and others.

“It really touches home for him, he‘s done an amazing job organizing it,” Joe Muto, former scoutmaster for Trottier, said. Muto is also assisting Trottier with the oversight on the project.

According to McKean, there are many people of many disabilities and impairments who use the park each year, and this new addition will allow for even more to utilize its many different locations.

“One of the things about this is it’s unique, it’s needed,” McKean said. “The trail can help a lot of people.”

The trail is expected to debut Sept. 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. Lunch and refreshments are expected to be provided but further information will follow as the event comes closer. To finish the project though, the family said that they are seeking about $1,700 in donations to purchase supplies, including the signage. If you would like to donate, Jeremy’s mother Heidi said that checks, made payable to Troop 821 with “Jeremy Trottier Eagle Project” in the memo, can be mailed to 16 Yeoman Ave., Westfield, MA, 01085.