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Robert Schmitz

Carr Square Walking Trail provides safe place to walk

BJC | Students at the Gateway Schools complex and residents of Carr Square neighborhood now have a safe place to walk, thanks to a “labor of love” that took nearly four years to complete. The Carr Square Walking Trail was officially dedicated Sept. 26 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by representatives of Saint Louis Public Schools (SLPS), BJC School Outreach and Youth Development, the BJC planning, design, construction and real estate department, B&P Construction and Civil Design Inc. (CDI).

A truly collaborative project borne out of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities initiative, the Carr Square Walking Trail was first recommended in 2014 during a Community Healthy Living Index project. Carr Square residents indicated at that time the need for increased activity for residents and students in the Carr Square area and a safe place for them to walk together.

Using funds from the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities grant provided by the Missouri Foundation for Health, SLPS partnered with BJC School Outreach and Youth Development, B&P Construction and CDI to take the project from idea to reality. Today, the nearly 1-mile walking trail is complete and accessible 24 hours a day to students and Carr Square residents of all abilities.

“The Carr Square Walking Trail is an example of everyone moving forward together to create a healthier environment for SLPS students and the residents of the City of St. Louis,” says Leanne White, Healthy Schools Healthy Communities project director for SLPS. “The development of this trail is an excellent example of real collaboration between the SLPS district and our community partners — all made possible from the generous funding of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities grant by Missouri Foundation for Health.”

The Carr Square Walking Trail also includes a path into the Carver School/Community Garden located on the Gateway Schools complex within the trail. The path to the garden was included to provide garden access to people of all abilities, most notably students at Gateway Michael School, which serves students with health issues and disabilities.

The Carr Square Walking Trail project came to fruition when BJC School Outreach director Diana Wilhold asked CDI president Vicki LaRose if she wanted to invest her team’s time and talents in supporting the development of the walking trail. “I knew we had alignment in our missions, which made it an easy ‘ask’ and a successful venture,” Wilhold says.

CDI developed the plans and design for the Carr Square Walking Trail as an in-kind donation. The trail was designed with an 8-foot-wide track to specifically make it accessible for two wheelchairs to pass each other while traveling in different directions or for two wheelchairs to travel together side-by-side in the same direction.

“At the foundation of CDI is building stronger communities, and this walking trail is an awesome way to build a stronger and healthier St. Louis through our partnership with BJC and Saint Louis Public Schools. We felt honored to be a part of this project,” says LaRose.

Additional in-kind contributions to the Carr Square Walking Trail included project management by BJC planning, design, construction and real estate; use of land and ongoing maintenance of the trail by SLPS; and numerous man-hours of labor provided by B&P Construction.

The Carr Square Walking Trail is accessible to Gateway Schools complex students during school hours and Carr Square residents during non-school hours via entrances on Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street.

More about Healthy Schools Healthy Communities

Healthy Schools Healthy Communities (HSHC) empowers communities to build a healthier future for children and families across Missouri. An initiative of Missouri Foundation for Health, HSHC brings together schools, community organizations, businesses, parents and residents to identify and push for changes that increase access to healthy food and physical activity where kids live, learn and play. In the city of St. Louis, Saint Louis Public Schools and BJC School Outreach and Youth Development are co-leading the HSHC initiative, currently targeting the Bevo Mill, Carr Square, Carondelet, Forest Park Southeast, Fountain Park, Greater Ville and Shaw communities.

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