The Nemours Foundation announced Tuesday its donation of woodland to Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Alfred I. du Pont and his wife Jessie understood the healing benefits of nature. After establishing the A.I. du Pont Institute, Jessie worked closely with landscape designers to create spaces that allowed patients at the Delaware hospital to leave its boundaries and experience nature.
To this day, patients at A.I. du Pont Children’s Hospital take advantage of Delaware’s nearby parks. But now patients and other Delawareans will have more opportunities to experience nature, following a land donation from the Nemours Foundation to Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources.
On Tuesday, the Nemours Foundation, DNREC and Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, announced the donation of nearly 46 acres of forestland to DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation’s Alapocas Run State Park, just outside Wilmington. The donation has allowed the State to pave the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail and a section of the Bancroft Trail, a total of one mile, providing more accessibility and year-round use of the woods and the Park.
“This 46 acres really makes that connection, and through a donation of real property to the state we don’t have to worry about things like liability and other issues, and instead focus on letting people know about the assets of this infrastructure and take advantage of it,” said DNREC Secretary David Small.
While the Nemours Foundation regularly maintains the du Pont estate and its grounds, it could not actively take care of the donated 46 acres because it required more work to get to the location and preserve it. There were fallen trees, blocked paths and potential safety risks.
Donating the land meant it could reach its full potential while the State creates walkways and maintains it routinely for Delaware residents.
The park is an essential asset to hospital patients, said Dr. Roy Proujansky, chief executive of Delaware Valley operations for the Nemours Foundation. Healthier children are less likely to be ill, and physical activity is an essential part to the healing process, he said.
“This donation in creating this pathway is part of creating the opportunity for children to be outdoors and participate in physical activity, which is just a part of creating healthy children,” Proujansky said.
Small said the donation gives individuals a safe, accessible park to walk, jog and ride bikes, and also provides them the opportunity to be one with nature.
“We know being able to spend time outdoors often rejuvenates folks spiritually, mentally, intellectually and emotionally,” he said.
During the announcement Gov. Markell said the donation will benefit generations to come.
“In a large part we’re here because we’re supposed to leave behind a better community, a better state and a better world than the one we inherited,” he said.
“Sometimes we struggle with that, and it’s hard but I think when we have the opportunity to find these kinds of investments we ought to take full advantage.”