Growing up with autism, Dalton Letta always sought out things to do to help reduce his stress.
"When I'm out in the outdoors taking long walks, I feel calm. I feel relaxed," said Letta, the face of autism for the Town of Gates.
The first of its kind nature trail at Letchworth State Park will provide a safe, dedicated space for visitors and families living with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.
Plans for the Autism Nature Trail designate a one-mile loop with eight stations offering everything from quiet engagement to active adventure.
"An inclusive environment like this will get them up and moving, and beyond that, get their families up and moving," said Dr. Susan Hyman of the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The first phase of the campaign to fund it raised $2 million.
The public campaign needs to raise $1.9 million.
"I want everyone to feel welcome in our park, everyone should feel like they have a home in our parks, and this is actually an opportunity to appeal to a community that we really have not done before across the state," said Erik Kulleseid, New York State Parks commissioner.
Supporters of the project believe families living with autism can benefit from a dedicated safe space to push boundaries and explore the outdoors.
"People with autism, they are just who they are, because it's hard for them to express themselves, they get stressed and angry, and I think this is a way to release it, so they feel better about themselves," said Letta.