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Walking Trail Improvements Benefit & Help Educate Lake County

On June 9, Leadership Lake County (LLC) Community Builders class of 2021 hosted a dedication ceremony for the walking trail at the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities(LCBDD)/Deepwood’s Recreation Site. This year’s Community Builder’s class had 21 members and were charged with exploring ideas and projects that build upon the skills they’ve developed for the benefit of Lake County and its citizens.

“It was a perfect partnership since Leadership Lake County engages present and future leaders to become committed to social, civic, and economic excellence in our community,” said Elfie Roman, LCBDD Superintendent. “We appreciate their sincerity in selecting projects that both have a direct benefit to individuals we serve and to our community as a whole.” 

The group wanted to target something that could get people out of their homes, in light of the 2020-2021 quarantine. Specifically, they wanted something that would get people out into nature and also educate the public about services provided in their community that they might not have known about.

“Project ideas this year were a challenge, but I think we came up with some meaningful ones,” said Kiley Ritt, Clinical Supervisor, LCBDD Service and Support Administration and member of Community Builders 2021 class. “Due to our group being unable to physically interact with individuals due the pandemic, we had to get creative.”

The group identified ways to beautify the walking path that winds through the LCBDD’s Recreation Site and to add an educational component. They developed ten signs that give facts about the history of the county board and services for individuals with developmental disabilities as you walk the scenic trail. The entry bed was completed with shrubs and flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and are fragrant to add a sensory experience. They can be enjoyed amidst the sounds of nature as you take a leisurely stroll on foot, bike, or wheelchair. Plant materials were purchased from local nurseries using donations raised by class members.

“Our vision was something that would have long lasting value and could benefit a large number of people,” said Ritt. “The walking trail is open to all Lake County residents, so in addition to its use by individuals served by the county board, the general public can enjoy the scenic views and peaceful trail, as well as learn a bit of history.”

The group also tackled a second project which involved LLC members recording stories of varying reading levels, which can be used to enrich the days of county board program participants.

“We tried to make the readings as entertaining as possible and each of us selected how best to produce the video to match the interests of our audience,” said Abby Spaller, Graphic Design Quality Lead at Stahl’s Transfer Express.

The group produced more than 15 videos of stories being read, which will be made available to individuals served by the county board and their families. Some of the topics in the stories relate to inclusion, self-advocacy, getting along well with others, and having strength during difficult times.

“These lessons not only relate to individuals who have developmental disabilities; they relate to most everyone at various times in life,” added Abby Spaller.

Event attendees enjoyed a cookout, sponsored by LLC Community Builders class of 2021 and had the opportunity to walk the new trail. Signs were designed by members Brandon Juszczyk, Engineer at Lincoln Electric and Emily Bihary, Trade Show Coordinator of Stahls’ Transfer Express and produced by Morgan Litho.

“Our Leadership Lake County programs provide immersive leadership development in community settings and community impact projects are an integral component of all of our programs. Our participants have opportunities to make a difference in our community and that strong link to the community enhances talent retention in Lake County,” said Dr. Jessie Baginski, President/CEO of Leadership Lake County. “If you’d like to learn more about our programs for students and professionals, visit, email or call 440-290-7933.

Read the associated article in The News Herald here.

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