By Ellen Nason
Maryhurst is celebrating the opening of a new walking trail that hugs its campus in Louisville, Kentucky, offering a therapeutic, healing embrace to those who use it to exercise, reduce stress and revitalize their spirits.
The tree-lined path, which officially opened July 22 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a 5K walk, was created through a $125,000 grant from the Humana Foundation. It is part of a campus improvement project at Maryhurst, one of Kentucky’s oldest child welfare agencies, that includes a butterfly garden and a new cottage where some of the teen-age girls cared for by the nonprofit will live.
“We are delighted to support this beautiful walking trail, which supports the important mission of Maryhurst – allowing people to grow, work and transform every day,” Humana Foundation Executive Director Virginia Kelly Judd said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I’m so excited for the kids and the staff who can use the trail day in and day out,” said Maryhurst CEO Judy Lambeth, who has been at the nonprofit for 40 years but continues to be inspired each day by the kids putting in the hard work to build a better future and the staff who show “high courage for a high mission and never give up.”
“Humana’s investment in this (improvement) project is huge,” said Lambeth. “We serve the most traumatized of kids so it’s important to have a healing environment that includes a place to walk and exercise. The walking trail is the pinnacle of this healing environment.”
“The girls are using it, but so is the staff,” said Lambeth, noting that the butterfly garden at the entry to the trail perfectly symbolizes the metamorphosis of the kids. “The work our staff does is incredibly hard and stressful and it’s important for them to take time to get away, replenish and go back and do what they do so well – serving the girls.”
Several staff members said they have already been using the trail as a pathway to improve their own well-being as well as a therapeutic tool to help the kids they serve.
“There has been nothing but excitement about this from the staff, and we couldn’t wait for the opportunity to use it,” said David Short, Maryhurst’s Director of Donor Relations. “Some kids don’t do well in a typical therapy session but will open up out here and talk without really realizing that they are talking.”
“This provides a way for the girls to come out and feel some freedom,” said Candyce Bingham, a youth counselor at Maryhurst’s Rosehaven facility who ran the 5K Thursday. “So much work has gone into this.”
Just as the butterfly garden symbolizes the transformation of kids in crisis, the walking path symbolizes their journey to wellness – a journey of hope for a brighter future.