Constance’s Story Trail Celebrates Girl’s Love of Nature & Reading

February 26, 2020

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park invites families to take a hike while enjoying a book about the wonders of nature. Join us at Heller Nature Center March 21st from 10 a.m. to noon for the opening of Constance’s Story Trail, an interactive walk featuring a children’s nature-themed book with pages displayed at intervals along the trail. The opening event will include a craft project and complimentary hot cocoa. Visitors will be able to enjoy the Story Trail through the year, with books changing regularly.

Constance’s Story Trail is made possible through a generous grant to the Parks Foundation by former Highland Park resident Marc Mar-Yohana as a touching tribute to his late daughter and to celebrate her love of nature and reading. Constance and her father had shared many joyous hours wandering among books posted on Heller’s scenic trails before the display was severely damaged and removed last spring.

“It was something we always loved to do together,” said Mar-Yohana, explaining that Constance was on the autism spectrum and had difficulty with physical coordination and speaking. “The Nature Center really gave her a chance to exercise. She liked seeing the trees and shuffling her feet through the leaves in the fall and got excited watching squirrels running, birds flying by, and frogs jumping in the pond.”

The posted stories made their visits to Heller even more rewarding since Constance’s ability to speak was at its best when reading aloud. “The books gave her an extra incentive to walk the full trail,” Mar-Yohana said. “Our goal in bringing it back is to make it last with the best available equipment. I really want other families to be able to enjoy it.”

Featured stories will include some of Constance’s favorites and books selected by the Highland Park Public Library staff. Organizers also hope to offer a chance for local youth to display their writing.

Heller Nature Center is a 97-acre woodland preserve of the Park District of Highland Park located at 2821 Ridge Rd. The Story Trail will be open to all visitors free of charge.

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is dedicated to the belief that every resident deserves the opportunity for an enriched healthy life. The Foundation supports and enhances the Park District of Highland Park’s exceptional facilities and provides resources to ensure that all community members are able to participate in Park District programs. The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is an independent, community-led, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To make a donation to the Parks Foundation, click here.  For more information, visit

Constance’s Story Trail is based on the StoryWalk® Project. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Photo:  Constance Mar-Yohana, a lover of nature and reading.