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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Connect with nature and yourself with the GRACE trail

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Saichand Chowdary
During the evening, students enjoy the Harbor Walk’s GRACE trail along the water. Photo by Saichand Chowdary / Mass Media Staff.

As the temperature increases, so does the pressure that comes with the end of the spring semester. Exams and final papers are creeping up, and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Student life often turns into a cycle of class, homework, jobs and home; this leads to isolation and depression, as students have no time for themselves.

Nature is a healthy way to reconnect with oneself. It can draw people back to the world around them, and remind them that there is something greater to appreciate. For those who have trouble finding the time to get into nature, there is something right within reach at UMass Boston: the GRACE trail, initiated by UHS Educators Chloe Belt and Beatriz Louzado.

Belt and Louzado are both UMass Boston alums, and they have developed multiple health education events for students. They have spearheaded the creation of many support groups, classes and more. Through the GRACE trail, Belt says they hope “participants can take away the significance of prioritizing your well-being while balancing the pressures of their academic, professional and personal life.”

The GRACE trail is a one-mile walk spanning from Fox Point dock to Harbor Point housing. Along the trail, there are five signs with letters, each one offering a different opportunity for reflection. These main themes are Gratitude, Release, Acceptance, Challenge and Embrace, which make up the acronym in the trail name.

The signs on the trail ask various questions for people to answer, such as “What am I grateful for?” or “What can I release to move on?” Students are encouraged to reflect among themselves or converse with friends about their experiences if they come with others. The questions are flexible; since answers may change daily, the trail is always interesting and beneficial. 

The main goal of the trail is to provide a space for healthy habits and self-reflection. According to Belt, “these walks aim to provide a platform for introspection, connection to nature and social engagement—all important for one’s physical and mental health.” Belt and Louzado wish to provide students with a peaceful environment where they can recover from the stresses of daily life. 

Along with the questions, there are QR codes on the signs that students can scan. They lead to a self-guided tour in the form of audio files, each one recorded by a UMass Boston student or faculty member. A map of the trail is also available online. The journey is meant to be self-guided, so certain letters can be skipped or done in any order.

University Health Services also offers guided walks with a group. They will be led by Belt and Louzado every Wednesday until the end of the semester, and they will continue back up in the fall. The group meets outside the Integrated Science Complex lawn, weather permitting. Any students, staff or faculty are welcome to join; healing is important for all, not just students.