Bringing a trail of community caring to caring for community trails
Nearly every Wednesday for the past three years, our Weimar College students and staff have been putting down the books, laptops, and syllabi to get in touch with our community as part of Total Community Involvement (TCI). From yard work to health education, they’ve been willing and equipped to help with just about anything that community members needed or wanted. And in the process of meeting needs, working hand in hand with TCI friends, and connecting through conversations, long-term friendships have been made on this trail of community caring.
However, this year, things have changed; TCI as we have known it for three years has not been able to continue as usual. With COVID-19 protocols, the once-weekly visits with TCI friends this year are no longer a possibility. Going out into the community to assist with yard work has also come to a halt.
Thankfully though, plans have been made to use our TCI time to work for the community in a new way. The mission of TCI has always been to be a good neighbor and improve our community in whatever way possible, especially in the areas of physical and mental health. Currently, TCI is focused on improving a major resource our community friends can use to take the first steps on the road to great physical and mental health.
A big part of both the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program and the NEWSTART Lifestyle Program here at the Weimar Institute campus is physical exercise. Not only does it help with physical health, but it also improves mental health. Weimar Institute is home to one great way for patients, students, staff, and the community to get quality physical exercise: our 14+ miles of trails.
According to the Meadow Vista Trail Association, we have “a wonderful nature preserve that is threaded by numerous well-maintained trails.” Weimar’s trail system is one of the more-easily accessed places in the immediate area that is out in nature. And being in nature – in the fresh air, walking/hiking among the trees, and listening to the birds – arguably provides the best form of physical exercise.
However, these trails have been here for years and are well used and worn. Until now, there has not been time or manpower available to fully maintain the trails. The brush along these trails has grown up and begun to cramp the trails, many of the benches and other structures that were built alongside them are growing old and rickety, and beautiful brooks have been cluttered by brush.
This semester though, the plan is to use this time to clean up one of our trails. Various teams of students and staff are cutting back and clearing out brush on different sections of the trail. Other teams will rebuild benches and other structures along the trail.
We are hoping to have this trail good as new and ready for our community to enjoy with us by the end of December. Until the trail is ready and until we can get back into the community in person, our students and staff are making sure to maintain the community friendships made over the past three years of TCI. Some groups write letters, others are doing zoom chats, and still others are dropping off packages at their friends’ doors. Even though we can’t have complete involvement in the community now, we are not losing our community connections.
When asked what message he wants to give to the community Narlon Edwards, TCI coordinator, said, “Just let them know that we haven’t forgotten about them.” He continued, “They can also reach out to us, call us, email us, and we can send them things or find creative ways of reaching out to them if they’re going through something.” Edwards also encourages the community to watch the videos that Weimar has made on boosting the immune system during this time at https://www.newstart.com/covid-19/.
We are all hoping that TCI can soon return to normal, but until then, we’ll care for the trails as part of caring for our community.
For more information about TCI, go to: