Wellness Walk at Blue Valley Wilderness Science Center honors late student

New Wellness Walk at the Blue Valley Wilderness Science Center honors the late life of Blue Valley North student Chad Harrell. Photo courtesy of Keep the Spark Alive.

The Blue Valley Education Foundation hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony early last week to celebrate the installation of its new Wellness Walk, which honors the late life of Blue Valley North student Chad Harrell.

The details: Located at the Blue Valley Wilderness Science Center at 5001 W. 163rd Terr., the new half-mile path is a way for visitors to combine physical health with mental health.

Funded by the nonprofit Keep the Spark Alive Foundation, BVEF says the trail is a mindful activity and encourages those who walk it to:

  • slow down,
  • renew their senses,
  • take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature
  • and pay attention to how the ground feels under their feet.

Also along the path are signs that give visitors a moment to reflect as they take a stroll through nature.

They have sayings like, “Shhh… listen to the sounds of nature” and “Stop and smell the flowers.”

The art for the signs was designed by Blue Valley Northwest student Julianne Zheng, who won the opportunity through a contest hosted by the foundation in the spring of last year.

Dedication: Several people gathered last Sunday for the trail’s grand opening, including Mayor Curt Skoog, but it was Nathan and Sylvia Harrell who actually cut the ribbon at the ceremony.

The couple founded the Keep the Spark Alive Foundation after the loss of their son to suicide in 2017.

Since then, the Harrell’s have used the foundation “to bring awareness and prevention of teen suicide, aid those left behind in the aftermath of suicide and honor the life Chad Harrell.”

At the entrance of the walk, is a sign dedicating the new space to Chad and the potential life he could have had if there had been more resources like the Wellness Walk when he was alive.

Key quote: “Chad was a senior at Blue Valley North and loved all things outdoors. His family feels that if the idea of mental health being equal to physical health was better understood perhaps Chad’s story could have been different. Maybe he would have found solace in nature and developed tools to help him through dark moments,” the sign reads.