BRADENTON -- A new walking trail will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday at United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida after the Manatee High School Key Club raised the money and provided the labor to complete the project.
The facility at 2203 30th Ave. W., Bradenton, with serves adults with developmental disabilities, has been in need of an upgrade to allow for more physical fitness activities for those the organization serves, said Gail Lesko, the adult day program manager.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that appears in infancy or early childhood and permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. There is no cure. The center serves patients with a number of disabilities. Those with cerebral palsy make up only a small portion of the adults who attend the day programs, but other conditions can also affect body movement and balance.
"We identified that as one of our biggest needs, an area for more physical activities," she said.
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The fitness trail is an 850-foot circular path around the back of the building constructed by the students in the Key Club with donations and assistance from Concrete onCall, 84 Lumber, Pro-Build and Bradenton Rent All. The project began in the summer, but students were stymied by inclement weather. The path helps get residents walk or bike out of the parking lot into a more secure area.
"We have a lot of property, so it's great to be able to offer these things on our property," Lesko said.
The grand opening ceremony will coincide with the center's holiday party. The students also erected a volleyball net and created a game area with horseshoes and cornhole.
Ian MacDonald, an 18-year-old Manatee High School senior and the club's international trustee, first heard of the center's need when Lesko spoke at a Kiwanis meeting. Originally, she was looking for volunteers to work on arts and crafts with the residents.
MacDonald said he knew the Key Club could do more.
"I thought: 'We can do better than that,'" MacDonald said.
To keep overheard costs down, the students sought out local companies to give the students free materials or discounted prices. Most of the work was done by the students, including tearing out the grass, framing in the path and smoothing concrete as it was poured.
"That was all hands on," said Kris Gerry, an 18-year-old Manatee High School senior and the club's president.
The involvement of the high school Key Club has had a few ripple effects, too, Lesko said, including starting an action club to encourage those at the facility to take on projects of their own. Having interaction with the students involved in the Key Club also furthers the organization's mission to advocate for community involvement and acceptance of adults with disabilities.
"To see the interaction with the high school students and the adults we serve, this is what it's supposed to be like," Lesko said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.