The Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter provides a safe haven, high-quality care and hope for the future to children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected.
That mission goes far beyond just taking care of a child’s basic needs.
“It’s giving them that full experience of childhood and just the little simple joys of being a kid,” Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter Board President Emily Reynolds said.
The Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter has strived for 25 years to provide more than just room and board for the kids that come through its doors. Children’s Shelter Board President Emily Reynolds points to a newly constructed one-mile bike trail, complete with a dozen skills features and a nature setting, as being part of that mission.
“So it’s providing, like literally, the simple joys of childhood [that include] learning how to ride a bike, getting to be outdoors, getting to go fish, things that we all did with our parents and our grandparents,” Reynolds explained. “And we wanted to make sure that the kids have that experience.”
The Walton Family Foundation has long been a supporter of the Children’s Shelter and helped provide a grant to make the bike trail possible. Program Officer Gary Vernon had heard just how much joy the kids get from riding the bicycles around the area.
“I was out here looking around and there’s just this great piece of property,” Vernon remembered. “You have woods, you’ve got an open field with some terrain and it was just gonna’ make a perfect spot to put a skills course and a little trail.”
Cassie Moore, with Hormel Foods, believes this new feature will give kids an important moment to look back on as they grow up. That is why she said Hormel chose to contribute as well.
“If you think back to your childhood, everyone has that memory of riding a bike as a child,” Moore explained. “So how awesome is that now that these kids, that have been through so much, can now have that opportunity.”
“Some of my best memories as a kid was learning how to ride a bike with my dad and riding down the street,” Reynolds shared. “And in the community now we have this amazing trail system that everyone can use and a lot of these kids haven’t gotten to do that ever.”
The trail is expected to be open in the next few weeks. The kids we spoke with are already excited to hit the trail once it is completed. Click here to learn more about how you or your organization can support the mission of the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter through volunteering opportunities and/or donations.