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North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area opens autism-friendly trail, first in Florida

Posted at 11:40 AM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 11:40:31-04

Palm Beach County’s North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area is the first in the state of Florida to be certified as autism friendly.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Thursday morning, Florida Atlantic University’s center for Autism and Related Disabilities awarded the park with the certificate.

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“We’re excited today not only to open it up for our students, and all of the clients at the Els Center of Excellence, but to introduce it to the community so that more people in the community area able to enjoy this great natural area,” said Toby Honsberger, Executive Director, The Learning Academy.

One-hundred-and-sixty acres of natural area was equipped with amenities that will not only create a safe environment for people on the autism spectrum but also more inviting.

“It’s such a peaceful area. It’s a great escape for him and just to bring those two great partnerships together means so much,” said Kristi Vannatta, whose son has autism.

Palm Beach County and The Learning Academy at the Els Center of Excellence worked together to make improvements to the area like adding water barriers, signage posted along the trail and rest areas.

The park hopes to serve as a model so other natural areas can also become autism friendly.

Click here to learn more about the natural area.